A local human rights pressure organisation, ZimRights has set the tone for a post COVID-19 human rights centred recovery plan.
The country imposed a national lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 however, the period was marked by arbitrary arrests of political and student activists. The country has recorded 10 129 COVID-19 cases with 8 643 recoveries and 277 deaths.
Speaking during the commemorations to mark the 2020 International Human Rights Day in Harare, Thursday, ZimRights national executive director Dzikamai Bere said the pressure group had set into motion a three pillar post pandemic recovery plan.
“At ZimRights we set into motion a three pillar COVID 19 response strategy, which hinged on humanitarian response, human rights monitoring and policy advocacy,” said Bere.
He said with support from the donor community, ZimRights provided support to clinics and prisons in the country’s ten provinces.
“We were able to provide urgent support to communities in need in all the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe, targeting mainly prisons and rural clinics. In that work, we have seen the birth of new human rights defenders – the doctors and nurses that are the frontline of defending the right to health in our communities. Over 17 000 people benefited from our interventions under the humanitarian pillar of our response strategy,” he said.
Bere said under the human rights monitoring pillar the pressure group introduced a series that captured testimonies from the communities on human rights.
“We introduced the ‘Their Voices Matter Series: Community Responses to Covid 19 pandemic.’ The series captured over 600 testimonies from communities, more than testimonies but conversations that gives context and perspective to emerging human rights issues. We worked with partners to record, document and respond to urgent human rights issues. 7 reports were published under the series.
“Under the policy advocacy pillar, we distilled community experiences and our observations together with recommendations from international bodies and the United Nations and came up with policy recommendations mainly aimed at encouraging the government to put human rights at the centre of the COVID 19 pandemic.” Bere said.
He added “We can say today, we wish the pandemic never happened. But more importantly, we can say, we did our very best. As civil society, were good partners with government and with our communities in fighting the pandemic. Not only did we respond to the humanitarian needs of communities, we pushed that human rights be at the centre of the fight against Covid 19.”