Commissions Watch UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Zimbabwe Demonstrations 17 August 2019 COMMISSIONS WATCH [17th August 2019] Statement by Spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on 16th August 2019 Demonstrations in Harare Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville Location: Geneva Date: 16 August 2019 Zimbabwe We understand that today’s planned protests in Harare have just been called off by the organisers, following a High Court decision to uphold a Government ban. The crowds that had already gathered were dispersed by police, with reports emerging of the use of force against protestors. With opposition demonstrations still likely to take place in Zimbabwe in the near future, we urge the Government to find ways to continuously engage with the population about their legitimate grievances on the economic situation, and to stop cracking down on peaceful protestors. If demonstrations go ahead we urge the security forces and protesters to ensure they proceed calmly and without any violence. We are deeply concerned by the socio-economic crisis that continues to unfold in Zimbabwe. While acknowledging efforts made by the Government, the international community and the UN in Zimbabwe to mitigate the effects of the crisis and reform process, the dire economic situation is now impacting negatively on the realization of the economic and social rights of millions of Zimbabweans. Long-term neglect and structural deficiencies have contributed to hyperinflation, resulting in soaring prices for fuel, food, transport and health services, which is having a dramatic impact on the population, and particularly on marginalized working-class people. The fact that key commodities and services have become less affordable for poor families, means there is an increasing need for strong social protection measures.