Responding to the Senate’s passing of the Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Amendment Bill, which now awaits President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s assent to become law, Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, said:
“The PVO Amendment Bill in its current form threatens civic society organizations working on human rights in Zimbabwe. The proposed bill, if it becomes law, will have dire consequences, including restricting civic space and access to humanitarian support services in Zimbabwe as it will immediately render all Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), not registered as PVOs, illegal.
“This bill, if passed by the president, could be used to deny registration of human rights organizations due to the work that they do, including defending rights such as freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The bill would also exacerbate the growing crackdown on civil society organizations, increase human rights violations and make it more difficult for the people to hold the government to account. There is a risk that employees and board members of NGOs could be arrested and subjected to punitive measures, including imprisonment, simply for doing their work.
“President Mnangagwa must use his leadership position to reject this bill as it is repressive. The President must ensure that this bill is never signed into law.
“Any future law must fully reflect international human rights standards and reaffirm the country’s human rights obligations towards the promotion and protection of the human rights of everyone including those who work to defend the rights of other people. NGOs must be allowed to operate freely and to do their work without any reprisals.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.