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50th session of the Human Rights Council

Item 3: Interactive dialogue 

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Friday – Monday 20 June 2022

Thank you, President.The Federation makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative.We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s report, the recommendation for both registered and unregistered NGOs to enjoy the inherent right to associate and to seek resources to support such association(s), and his follow-up report on Zimbabwe.

The double standard imposed through stringent measures that NGO’s and CSOs face, is created to control[1] the mandate of these independent entities in the guise of restricting foreign funding or foreign agents. Yet, States continue to use development assistance and investment from corporations, and to procure loans, without adequate public oversight, or accounting systems, thus, destroying public systems in the process.

Contrary to the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations,[2] the NGO registration process in Zimbabwe has not been simplified, as is evidenced by the proposed Public Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill that mandates onerous NGO registration requirements, a process marked by intense State scrutiny. Additionally, there is a de facto suspension of NGO registration in the form of trusts for an indefinite period, further restricting available organisational models for civil society to continue operating legally in the country.[3]

States that regard NGOs and CSOs as threats are in fact ensuring people have poor standards and quality of life. Inclusion is paramount for both States and rights-holders as participation becomes devolved and diverse, leaving no one behind including minorities. A development which would aid most states to achieve Agenda 2030 holistically.

Thank you.

[1] Ugandan article on NGOs ban: https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/uganda-suspends-work-54-ngos-increasing-pressure-charities-2021-08-20/

[2] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: Follow-up to country visits to Tunisia, Armenia, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe: A/HRC/50/23/Add.3, paras 62-66.

[3] Link on registration suspension in Zimbabwe – https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2022/03/25/govt-suspends-pvos-registration/#:~:text=THE%20 GOVERNMENT%20has%20 suspended%20the,NGOs

Publication date: Mon, June 20, 2022

Submitted under: Federation for Women and Family Planning

UN Mechanism

Human Rights Council