Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is a membership organisation composed of lawyers which was started in 1996 as an effort to foster and encourage the growth and strength of human rights at all levels of Zimbabwean society through observance of the rule of law.
Each year, the organisation serves more than 1500 people from all walks of life. From 1996 to 2002, ZLHR operated on an ad hoc basis responding to significant rule of law related human rights violations as and when they took place. Due to increasing demand for its services and as a result of the recommendations of a 2001 evaluation by Hivos and a strategic planning workshop in 2002, a secretariat was put in place in July to ensure the smooth operations of the organisation.
Today the ZLHR is the most visible human rights organisation in Zimbabwe, with offices in all the country’s regions. Among its international achievements is the award for the first annual Freedom Defenders Award in 2007(US), and the John Humphrey Award in 2008 (Canada).
ZLHR’s mission has consistently remained the same - to foster a culture of respect for human rights, and to encourage human rights protection at all levels of society through observance of the rule of law. ZLHR aims to protect and defend human rights through strategic litigation, education, and the strengthening of participation and collaboration by key stakeholders in Zimbabwe.
Activities and Programmes
ZLHR programmes include Human Rights Defenders, Public Interest Litigation incorporating International Litigation Project, Strategic Litigation and the Anti-Impunity Drive, Public Education (Human Rights Training), HIV/AIDS, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Capacity Building).
The vision of ZLHR is “a just and democratic society in Zimbabwe with a culture of respect of the rights of women, men and children" while the stated mission is to, “promote and protect human rights through a sustainable programme of litigation, unique legal support services, education and strengthened participation by key stakeholders influencing a culture of respect for human dignity and rights, tolerance and democracy in Zimbabwe.
Among the objectives of the organisation are to strive to protect, promote, deepen and broaden the human rights provisions in the constitution of Zimbabwe; to strive for the implementation and protection in Zimbabwe of international human rights norms as contained in important conventions such as the universal declaration of human rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, the International Covenant on Social and Cultural Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
ZLHR holds observer status with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, provides secretarial services to the Human Rights Committee of the SADC Lawyers Association and has affiliate status with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).