Millions of Zimbabweans Undocumented – Zimrights

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has applauded Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) for the successful completion of the Inquiry on Access to Documentation in Zimbabwe and subsequent launch of the report last Thursday in Harare.

ZimRights said the report will go a long way to inform the government in addressing challenges Zimbabweans face in accessing identity papers.

The report revealed Manicaland province had the highest number of people without documentation and in some cases birth certificates.

The national inquiry was conducted to find challenges Zimbabweans face in accessing birth certificates, national identity cards, passports, citizenship, and death certificates. It is Zimbabwe’s first national inquiry in the quest to address the impact of systematic violations of human rights.

“Access to national documentation is at the core of the enjoyment of fundamental human rights. ZimRights welcomes the report and shares the same observation with the ZHRC that only when Zimbabwe uses a human rights-based approach to providing the national documents can the crisis be solved,” reads part of the statement issued by the human rights lobby organisation.

However, ZimRights said it was saddened the inquiry revealed the biggest challenges people face resulted from failure to acquire birth certificates resulting in millions of Zimbabweans remaining statelessness.

It, however, commended the Commission for producing an honest report that gives recommendations on how the documentation crisis can be addressed and ensure citizens are not fleeced when acquiring the documents. Acquiring must be a smooth process that does not see citizens sleeping in queues to access documents as is the case now.

“ZimRights calls on the government and in particular, the Registrar General’s office to comply and implement the recommendations and ensure that citizens have access to national documents.

“ZimRights is committed to supporting the work of the ZHRC in ensuring that the findings of the Inquiry are made known to the communities most affected by lack of access to documentation. Through this, communities are empowered to make use of the report and claim their rights. ZimRights further commits to pushing for the relevant policy reforms meant to eliminate the obstacles to the full enjoyment of rights.”

Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda was guest of honour at the launch and in his speech told guests that a passport was a right to every citizen in Zimbabwe and not a privilege.

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