By A Correspondent- The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has said enforcement of COVID-19 regulations has fuelled corruption in communities.
In its 2020 annual report released recently, ZHRC said the lockdown measures negatively affected citizens’ enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, resulting in conflicts between the public and law enforcement agents.
The commission recorded a 39,9% increase in the number of complaints in 2020 as compared to the previous year.
Most of the complaints were on service delivery and human rights issues.
“The pandemic seriously affected the enjoyment of civil and political rights and economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. COVID-19 threatened the right to life the world over,” ZHRC said.
“From complaints received by the commission and engagements with various stakeholders, it was evident that there were concerns about excesses and partiality in enforcing regulations.
“This non-adherence to principles of necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination resulted in various conflicts between the public, human rights defenders and activists on one hand and law enforcement agencies on the other. The situation became a breeding ground for other vices like corruption, abuse of power and office.”
The commission condemned torture and acts of cruelty towards civilians, regardless of the circumstances.
“It should be noted that when limiting or restricting rights, there are certain factors that are taken into account, for example, whether the limitation is proportional to the intended objective, is not discriminatory, of a limited duration, respectful of human dignity and subject to review,” ZHRC said.
“The commission emphasised that certain rights could not be limited at all such as freedom from torture, cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment, right to human dignity and right to a fair trial.”
The public also raised concern over the prolonged closure of schools, saying it was curtailing enjoyment of the right to education.
The COVID-19 lockdown also affected the people’s sources of livelihoods, which resulted in food shortages in communities, according to the report.
This week, the Judicial Service Commission approved the proposed new schedule of fines for COVID-19 regulation violations, which will see offenders paying a maximum of $5 000 for violating preventive protocols.
Legislators, however, argued that the hefty fines would promote corruption as the cash-squeezed public would opt to pay bribes than go to court.