The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has called for urgent responses to address challenges faced by citizens in securing identification documents.
ZHRC conducted a nationwide inquiry from May 2019 to April 2020, with the aim of getting a deep understanding of the underlying reasons why a significant proportion of citizens were facing challenges in accessing identity documents.
Section 35 (3) of the Constitution states that Zimbabwean Citizens are entitled to rights and benefits that include passports and other travel documents, birth certificates and other identity documents issued by the State.
Speaking during the official launch of the report on the national inquiry on access to documentation in Zimbabwe, chairperson of the commission Dr. Elasto Mugwadi urged stakeholders to address recommendations in the report.
“… urgent responses are needed to address the identified challenges so that the plight of people failing to enjoy human rights due to lack of documentation can be resolved or minimised. As a Commission, we therefore, appeal to stakeholders to whom recommendations have been addressed in the Report to take ownership of those recommendations and work expeditiously towards their implementation.
“The yearning among citizens for enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms has never been greater and should be met by adopting lasting solutions that are proposed in this Report. Special attention should be placed on vulnerable groups of people who face multiple challenges in accessing documents.
“Such groups include women and children (in particular, orphans), persons with disabilities, older persons, Gukurahundi – affected communities, minority groups (e.g. the San, Tonga and Doma, mixed race and inter -sex communities), refugees at Tongogara Refugee camp, prison inmates, the floods and cyclone Idai affected communities among others.” Dr. Mugwadi said.
The report, Dr. Mugwadi said unveils root causes and factors that hinder documentation including but not limited to generational non-documentation, poverty, negative cultural and religious practices and beliefs, migration and unknown whereabouts of parents, procrastination, negligence and lack of awareness by parents and guardians on the significance of national documents as well as home births that result in lack of birth confirmation records which are a sine qua non for birth registration.
Birth certificates, are primary identity document from which all other rights flow and which enables a person to acquire all the other national documents.