Monday, September 12, 2005

Zimbabwe: Mass Evictions Lead to Massive Abuses

Human Rights Watch weighs in with a report damning Zimbabwe's drive against squatters.

It's great to have another voice raised against Robert Mugabe's Operation Murambatsvina. Still, I'd like to offer one loyal cavil: the report has some terrific and needed recommendations, but the legal language gets a bit squishy. For instance, this is the fifth recommendation:

"Develop a legal framework free from gender discrimination, for conferring security of tenure on those who do not yet have it, including those in informal settlements or who are occupying land or housing."

First, housing rights could be the first demand. But also, the process of developing a legal framework is a bureaucratic process. Mugabe could agree with this demand and nothing would get done for decades. I'm all for working within the system. But something has to be done immediately to protect the rights of those who Mugabe treated as if they had no rights at all. How about an immediate pledge that no one, except in cases of absolute risk to themselves, shall be evicted from their homes in the informal settlements. Then people can discuss legal approaches.

No comments: