News Brief
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Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks during the Defence Forces Day celebrations held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on August 14, 2018.

Zimbabwe Announces "Patriot Bill" Amidst Rising Human Rights Protests

The Zimbabwen government has announced that it will table the "Patriot Bill" in parliament which will criminalise openly criticising the government.

ZImbabwean government, led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has reportedly announced that a new bill called the "Patriot Bill" will soon be tabled in parliament. According to TIMESLive, the "Patriot Bill" is set to criminalise any communication with foreign embassies that take place without government clearance. Additionally, public critique and oppositional demonstrations will also be illegal under the bill. This announcement follows increasing criticism at the Zanu-PF led government for corruption, human kidnappings and other grievous human rights violations.


Read: #ZimbabweanLIvesMatter: Here are Their Personal Stories

Parliamentary Affairs Secretary, Virginia Mabhiza, stated that the basis of the "Patriot Bill" is founded on "promotion and protection of national interests".

"Conduct such as private correspondence with foreign governments or any officer or agent thereof will be prohibited, including false statements influencing foreign governments, or any other such conduct aimed at undermining the country," Mabhiza explained to The Zimbabwe Mail.

UK ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, Julian Braithwaite, has critiqued the Zimbabwean government for the manner in which it treats civilians. In an official public statement, Braithwaite scathed the government and urged for the inclusion of respect for human rights as part of Zimbabwe's economic reforms.

The economic struggles of the country seem far from being resolved and critique of the government from international countries and agencies seems to fall on deaf ears. Mnangagwa has consistently denied a crises, while regional bodies SADC and AU have done nothing but watch. Public criticism grew after the July 31 protests which allegedly culminated in the arrest and kidnappings of civilians. The unlawful incarceration of journalist Hopewell Chino'ono and oppostional party leader Jacob Ngarivhume sparked global outrage through #ZimbabweanLives Matter. The two were released after mounting public pressure.

Zimbabwe is not the only country to deliberate on laws that infringe on human rights of public speech and freedom of association. Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan and Ivory Coast have also indicated passing similar laws.

Spotlight
Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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