ROHR ZIMBABWE ATTENDS AFRICAN REGIONAL TRAINING WORKSHOP ON BUSINESS & HUMAN RIGHTS
By Information & Publicity Staff, 20th October, 2012
ROHR Zimbabwe was invited and attended a training workshop on Business and Human Rights organized and hosted by Global Rights (Partners for Justice) in London at Hogan Lovells International LLP ∙ Atlantic House ∙ Holborn Viaduct London EC1A 2FG from 8th to 11th October, 2012. The workshop was one of many runs by the organization with a view to working side by side local activists in Africa, Asia and Latin America, building capacity to address human rights violations for today and future generations. The workshop was focused on natural resources and human rights initiatives.
Zimbabwe was represented at the workshop by Priscilla Chitsinde, who is the Chairperson of ROHR Zimbabwe’s South-East London branch and Rudo Magundani of Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (NGO). Other participants came from ten different African countries namely, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria, Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Cameroon, and Cote D’Ivoire.
Presenters came from reputable institutions, including the United Nations, Amnesty International, world Bank Institute, Legal Entities, Jurisdiction and litigation, International Alert, Red Cross and the UK Government, to mention a few.
The workshop gave an overview of the United Nations’ current work on Business and Human Rights; how Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) could interact with the UN Working Group; How to promote the use of the UN Guiding Principles implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and remedy” Framework; How Civil Society Organizations can obtain and share the latest information on Business and Human Rights; Ways in which the work of the Business and Human rights Resource Centre can contribute and support the work of CSOs.
In the Natural Resources Extractive Industry, the workshop addressed the subject of the relevance and process for monitoring contracts, principles of good governance and human rights, transparency and disclosure, accountability as well as challenges encountered when trying to bring corporations involved in human rights abuses to justice and successful prosecution of those involved. The workshop also gave an outline of corporate accountability work and cases brought against corporations who flout human rights and environmental standards.
The workshop also outlined what Voluntary Principles (VPs) are, and their role on communities, corporations and civil organizations on Security and Human Rights, stories of success and lessons learned from practical implementation of VP’s by CSOs from different countries.
Representatives from the UK government spoke on the work of the UK regarding the VP’s. Representatives from such corporations like British Petroleum (BP), Total (S.A) talked about what their organizations are doing regarding the VP’s and Human Rights violations within the communities they are operating in.
The workshop also covered due diligence and corporate social responsibility and what CSOs need to know regarding Human Rights and due diligence. It also covered the difficulties faced in accessing key Information to defend rights, the remedies available, including the gaps and opportunities within individual national legal systems.
Speaking on the rationale behind such workshops, the Executive Director of Global Rights, Susan M. Farnsworth said, “We are not sending in outsiders to “fix” problems –but rather training new human rights leaders within communities so they can advocate for their own rights”.
On her part, Priscilla Chitsinde said “The workshop was very informative and helped in learning and understanding frameworks available for the implementation and fulfilment of Human rights. I will be sharing the knowledge gained with any willing members of ROHR Zimbabwe”
For pictures of this event click here
Of Gay Rights and distractions
By Patrick Gore – 4th January, 2013
So the constitutional process is still locked in deadlock….surprise surprise,. Or is it? Should we not have expected this as this is a politically driven purpose…? The whole process has been used by the political parties involved to further their interests, One side intent on maintaining its hold on power while the other trying their best to erode that power so they can then wrestle it from the other. In this game both sides have tried to dupe the people into believing that they have the people”s best interests at heart.
One of the most comical, if not tragic, issue to come out of the process is the issue of gay rights. Tragic in that it shows how people can easily be distracted from serious issues to concentrate on nonsensical issues. While I can understand how one of the political parties has used this issue to tarnish its opponents, it beats me how the issue becomes so important to a society which has generally turned a blind eye to it. Apart from anti gay rhetoric here and there, the most, gay people have received from Zimbabwean society is a bit of ridicule, comical in most cases. Nowhere in Zimbabwe have homosexuals been lynched, beaten up or jailed for their sexual preference. Homosexuals have not been persecuted at all in Zimbabwe. It is true that the vast majority of Zimbabweans do not approve of homosexuality, but they have generally turned a blind eye to it. It only becomes a matter of serious public debate at the instigation of political parties.
What’s more, the side that is trying to portray itself as anti-gay is itself known to harbour homosexuals within its ranks. Furthermore, they are not being clear on what it is they want. On one hand, they seem to be saying they do not tolerate homosexuality at all, and on the other they seem to be saying homosexuals can carry on with their business, but their rights should not be guaranteed in the constitution. But whatever it is they are saying on the issue, it perplexes me how anyone can take them seriously. This is the same group that did its best to protect Reverend Canaan Banana”s sexual orientation from the people. When rumours about the Reverend”s sexuality started circling this very group amended the constitution to stop these rumours. It became a crime to “ridicule the name of Canaan Banana”, The tragic event that took place at Zimbabwe Grounds exposed a sinister side of the Reverend that the public had not known. Up to then the public had simply ridiculed the Reverend. But now it was exposed that the Reverend was a serial rapist who had used his powerful position, and at times his judo expertise, to force himself on numerous men.
The two court cases that followed further exposed how several senior officials negated their duty to protect innocent citizens but instead chose to protect one of their own, whose sexual preference they profess to abhor. During Jefta Dube”s trial, from police commissioners to the Vice President testified to having known of what was taking place. Indeed, when questioned on what he had done when he had come to this knowledge, the VP testified that “He had taken it to the highest office in the Land”. The highest office in the land was then summoned to court but this never happened as another amendment was made to the constitution which allowed the highest office in the land to refuse appearing in court.
So not only did they try to shield his sexuality from the people, a sexuality they were obviously aware of even before appointing him President, they also protected him while he repeatedly committed the crime of rape. They chose to deny his victims their right to protection, their right to decent treatment. How then does a group with such a history portray itself as anti gay and have some people buy it. As a matter of fact, these people should be prosecuted for defeating the course of justice. A crime(s) was reported to them and they chose to protect the perpetrator.
The debate over including or excluding gay rights in the constitution is merely a waste of time and a distraction from serious issues. Surely our time would be better spent debating how we can protect citizens from sexual predators in political power. Apart from the Reverend”s case above there other numerous cases of abuse carried out by people in power over defenceless women and children. One senior minister is known to have paid unending trips to St Michaels Mission in Mhondoro in the 80s, where he forced himself on innocent school girls. Cases of women forced to leave their husbands are known. Paedophilia is known to be taking place in high offices. It is our duty to protect these victims than wasting our time debating about what two consenting adults do in their bedroom. Ngoma ndiyo ndiyo…