By Wallace Mawire
UN Special Rapporteur Clément Nyaletsossi Voule is set to visit Zimbabwe from 17 to 27 September 2019 to assess the country’s achievements and challenges in relation to the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the country, according to a UN spokesperson in Zimbabwe.
It is reported that this will be the first official visit by an independent human rights expert, appointed by the Human Rights Council, to Zimbabwe.
“My upcoming visit to Zimbabwe represents a key opportunity to learn first-hand about laws, policies and national realities in relation to the rights to peaceful assembly and of association in light to the 2013 Constitution and the change of leadership,” Voule said.
“My mission will also serve to identify the opportunities and challenges the Government faces in implementing articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly in relation to the management of assemblies in the context of the recent protests,” the human rights expert said, noting Zimbabwe’s accession to the Covenant in May 1991.
The Special Rapporteur, who is visiting at the invitation of the Government, will meet with government officials, representatives of the judiciary, legislature, independent institutions and civil society. He will also meet members of the international community including UN officials.
During his 10-day mission, Voule will travel to Bulawayo, Mutare and the Marange communities.
“I look forward to having a constructive engagement with the Government, independent institutions and a wide-range of civil society actors to identify needs and practical approaches in order to formulate constructive recommendations that can contribute to the strengthening of the civic space in the country,” he said.
At the end of his mission, the Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary findings at a news conference on 27 September at 12:00 at the United Nations Information Centre in Harare (Sanders House, 2nd floor. Cnr. First Street/Jason Moyo Avenue Harare). Access to the press conference will be limited to the media.
The independent expert will present a comprehensive report of his visit, which will include his findings and recommendations, to the 44th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2020.
Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, from Togo, was appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association in March 2018. He is a legal expert and currently works in Geneva in the field of human rights. He is an associate researcher at the Geneva Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. Prior to his appointment, he led the work of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). Mr. Voule also worked as Secretary General of the Togolese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, as campaigning officer for the Coalition for the Togolese International Criminal Court and as Secretary General of the Amnesty International section in Togo. Since 2011, Mr. Voule has been an expert member of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.