The Zimbabwe Human Rights Associations (ZimRights) joins the rest of the world and the local human rights community in commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture under the theme “Fostering civic space to obtain redress and accountability for victims of torture.” Internationally, torture is regarded as a heinous crime against humanity.
Article 1 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) defines torture as; “… any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
Section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe prohibits the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Despite this Constitutional prohibition, torture remains in use by Zimbabwe’s security forces especially to punish political opponents, activists and human rights defenders. Torture is also used by the security force as a means to extract evidence from arrested persons. Despite the fact that torture is prohibited in terms of the Constitution, Zimbabwe has not ratified CAT and this raise concerns as to the sincerity of the Zimbabwean government to outlaw torture. Apart from the constitution provision against torture, there is no criminal sanction to perpetrators of torture. There are no active and compelling statutory or administrative measures to deter perpetrators of torture.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police, though mandated to investigate criminal cases, is reluctant to investigate cases of torture. A 22 year old student, Tawanda Muchehiwa, abducted on 30 July 2020 is still waiting for justice despite knowledge that the car that abducted him was hired from Impala Car Rentals. Joana Mamombe, Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were arrested after reporting abduction and torture. The victims of the August 2018 shootings are still yearning for justice and the implementation of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry recommendations, so are many more victims of torture.
Today, ZimRights stands in solidarity with all the victims of torture in Zimbabwe in condemning all acts of torture and call on the government of Zimbabwe:
- To investigate and prosecute all cases of abductions and torture
- To provide redress and compensate all victims of torture.
- To immediately end the victimization of torture survivors.
- To strengthen mechanism and institutions that fights against torture and human rights violations.
- To ratify and domesticate the Convention Against Torture.