Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

Amnesty calls on Zimbabwean government to address statelessness

Published on: 16 April, 2021
Women in Harare, Zimbabwe in 2020 [AP]

Women in Harare, Zimbabwe in 2020 [AP]

In a new report issued by Amnesty International today the rights group state that hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the misery of statelessness in Zimbabwe have been forced to the margins of society, and struggle to access education, healthcare and housing.

The report, We are like ‘stray animals’, Thousands living on the margins due to statelessness in Zimbabwe, details how Zimbabwe’s discriminatory and arbitrary nationality laws have left generations of migrant workers and their families marginalized in the only country they have ever called home.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees approximately 300,000 people are currently at risk of statelessness in Zimbabwe but there is a lack of official data.


Margins of society

Stateless people in Zimbabwe struggle to access housing, healthcare and education, violating their rights under the Constitution, as well as international and regional human rights treaties including the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Zimbabwe is a State Party.

‘Zimbabwe must make concrete and urgent changes to the law to bring the Citizenship Act in line with the Constitution. The authorities must take the necessary steps to ensure no further generations are condemned to the margins of society,’ said Muleya Mwananyanda deputy regional  director of East and Southern Africa for Amnesty International.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mwananyanda said: ‘The issue of the alignment of the discriminatory and contradictory Citizenship Act to the 2013 Constitution has been discussed at Cabinet level but the amendment bill is not yet before Parliament. The government has also made 7 pledges at the Geneva Conference on Refugees in 2019 to address statelessness. We are monitoring the situation closely to see if the government will honour its promises.’

The report contains numerous recommendations including calling on the Zimbabwean government to allocate an adequate budget for a comprehensive 2023 census which will identify populations who are stateless and at risk of statelessness.

The report further calls on Zimbabwe to ratify the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of  Statelessness.