Retired Justice Moses Chinengo has urged Zimbabwe’s lawyers to prioritise the rights of people who are exploited in mining communities, saying they was over emphasis on human rights abuses by the state.
Zimbabwe has in the past experienced an increase in the number of rights abuses in the mining communities with people living in mining areas displaced with no compensation.
Speaking at the official opening of the new Kodzero/ Amalungelo permanent house for the Zimbabwe Lawyers Rights, Justice Chinengo said they was need for the lawyers to also emphasis dealing with the exploitation of people in the mines.
“I would like to urge this organisation to expand its horizons and continue to be guided by the social and economic context. At the moment, I must say… that I remain a bit concerned that just as with the concept of corporate complicity and legal accountability Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has not yet been fully seized with the United Guarding Principles on Business and Human rights, if it has I am yet to see the work around that,” he said.
He urged the lawyers to show the same vigour that they have towards the government and put the mining companies to account.
“While we remain focused on the state, they are people behind the exploitation of resources who are really interested in Chiadza. So we must look into this as ZLHR what is the role played by cooperates,” he added.
Chinengo who is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists encouraged Zimbabwe’s lawyers to channel their energy towards abuses in mines.
“As an affiliate to the International Commission of Jurists we expect Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to become more engaged on issues of cooperate social accountability. I was advised that a strategy is being finalised. This strategy is long overdue. In this country, there continues to be corporate complicity in human rights violations. I was thinking as I was preparing this speech on what really is at the eviction of people in Chiadzwa about. Is it not all about diamonds?,” said the ex- judge.
The opening of the Kodzero-Amalungelo House was hailed as a boast for human rights in the country is expected to become a human rights hub, providing clients with access to a diverse range of legal services in a secure environment.
In the long term, the hub will improve inter- organisational collaboration as the human rights and law-based CSOs will create synergies in their service delivery, while reducing transport costs for clients.
The event was attended by Zimbabwe’s lawyers, ambassadors from European countries, human rights activists and came at a time ZLHR is celebrating 20 years of its existance.