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Use of children in protests condemned

21 Jan 2019 at 10:52hrs | Views
Christian Legal Society and Freedom First Project note with concern the recurrent involvement and use of children in politically motivated violence including looting of goods and destruction of property. We have observed that the recent National Shutdown and Stay-way from 14 to 16 January 2019 as well as the Shutdown that took place in July 2016, children were used for political expediency and made to participate in destruction of property and looting.

We are disturbed by this developing culture and escalation of using children to participate in protests (particularly in the City of Bulawayo's western suburbs) as well as dragnet and arbitrary arrests of minors for alleged looting and committing acts of public violence.

We specifically note that the incidences of using of children during the so called recent three [3] day Shutdown in January 2019 are akin to the events that took place in 2016 National Shutdown which also culminated into political violence and looting. In 2016 , for instance over 30 children were arbitrarily arrested and charged with the crime of 'Public Violence' in terms of section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform.

We therefore call upon the Government of Zimbabwe through the following ministries; Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Home Affairs; Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Social Services to put in place sustainable mechanism in place to safeguard children against political abuse and protect their rights as cited in section 81(g) and (h) of  the Constitution of Zimbabwe (1)(g) which states that '...children should not be recruited into militia activities.. and that they should not be compelled to take part in political activities...'. Where this has happened it is necessary to take corrective measures to rehabilitate such children who were involved in political activities. Our preliminary survey indicated that 60-70% of children who were used in protests are of school going age.

We also call upon the President in his capacity as the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Defense Forces to set up a Commission of Inquiry which shall look into the involvement and use of children for political violence particularly in the City of Bulawayo.

We call upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police to thoroughly investigate all cases before arrests are made and NOT to detain or arrest in order investigate. We also call upon the Police to cease all forms of arbitrary and dragnet detention of persons without due process.

We call upon the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to investigate all reported cases of widespread abductions of persons as well as all forms of human rights violations during and post the National Shutdown period.

We remind all Political Actors that the involvement of children in political activities is not in the best interest of the child and the country further it is a violation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

We unreservedly condemn all forms of politically motivated violence and destruction property that resulted in the needless loss of life and business enterprises.

Finally, we call upon all authorities to abide by the tenets of the constitution of Zimbabwe in the pursuit of justice.

Source - CLS and FF
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