Harare - Zimbabwean authorities have claimed the organisers of an "illegal" protest this week used children as human shields, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported on Friday.Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira had threatened to take legal action against those “violating children’s rights” by coercing them to participate in marches.Mapfumira said this was against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the country’s constitution. She claimed “forcing” children to participate in protests had long-term psychological effects on them.“The use of children in protest violates article 36 of the UNCRC, which provides for the protection of children from any form of exploitation, which includes being taken advantage of; in this case it is clear that the organisers of this protest took advantage of these children to get a sympathetic ear. Ubuntu and morality prohibits the use of children for adult gain,” Mapfumira was quoted as saying.According to Nehanda Radio, the children of pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara joined their parents at the #BringBackDzamara protests in Africa Unity Square Gardens on Wednesday. Scores of children offered rose flowers and queen cakes to police as a "show of love." Police retreated to their vans as they unsure how to deal with the situation, according to the report. Zimbabwean police usually use force against protesters.News24 reported previously that at least 43 children were hospitalised after inhaling teargas let off by riot police in their block of flats in Bulawayo, during demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe.