The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) is a coalition of nineteen human rights NGOs in Zimbabwe who while having their own objectives, are concerned with the level and nature of organized violence and torture in the country perpetuated mainly, though not exclusively, by state agents and their ancillaries. It came into existence at the time of the Food Riots in 1998 .
The vision of the Forum is a society that respects all human rights, free of organized violence; torture and cruel and degrading treatment.
To reduce organized violence and torture, cruel inhuman and degrading treatment; to challenge impunity and to foster a culture and the building of institutions of non-violence, tolerance and the respect for human rights in Zimbabwe.
Members and membership
At the outset, the Forum comprised 8 members. It has subsequently attracted support from the major human rights NGOs in Zimbabwe and liaises closely with its colleagues and peers such as National Association of Non Governmental Organisation (NANGO), the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
Membership of the Forum is open to any organisation which is based in Zimbabwe and which is bona fide concerned with human rights, in particular with the elimination of organised violence and torture. The Forum currently has member organisations working in the areas of women’s rights, civil and political rights, freedom of expression and the media, gay and lesbian rights, prisoner’s rights, anti corruptions, good governance and peace building and non violent ways of conflict resolution.
The Board of Directors of the Forum consists of a representative from each of the member organisation. The Board is mandated by the Forum’s Constitution to delegate, its power to run its affairs and business to a Committee, which is referred to as the Management Committee. The Management Committee comprises of four individuals nominated from the Board and remains accountable to the Board, to whom it is expected to make a report quarterly.
Programmes and Units
The implementation of the Forum’s programmes is done through four functional units, the Transitional Justice Unit; Public Interest Unit; the Research and Documentation Unit and the International Liaison Office:
- The Transitional Justice Unit spearheads the Forums work to rebuild social trust, repair a fractured justice system, and build a democratic system of governance address past human rights violations and includes both judicial and non-judicial approaches.
- The Public Interest Unit challenges impunity and holds the government accountable for its actions by litigating cases of organised violence and torture in domestic and international court. The unit currently has over 700 active cases that are before the High Court of Zimbabwe and 5 that are before the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe.
- The Research and Documentation Unit is responsible for the production of the Forum’s flagship publication, the Monthly Political Violence Report (MPVR). The MPVR chronicles the extent to which violence has be perpetrated in any given month. The unit also produces regular reports on human rights violations in Zimbabwe and human rights bulletins which discuss various human rights.
- The International Liaison Office was established as an initiative to co-ordinate the international lobbying work of the Forum, including assessing where it will be useful for the Forum and its member organisations to be represented internationally and preparing delegates representing the Forum at international events .
The Forum has observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.