ROHR Zimbabwe strongly condemns the use of torture by law enforcement agents on detainees. This follows the revelations from the daily Newsday of 25/02/11 in which arrested activist Munyaradzi Gwisai and others gave testimonies to their lawyers that they were heavily tortured at the Harare Central Police station by several law enforcement agents. It is further alleged that some of the detainees have been denied their right to medical attention and access to drugs like ARVs.

Torture is a serious crime and degrading violation of the dignity of humanity not only under the Zimbabwean constitution but also under regional and international human rights law. Section 15 (1) of the Zimbabwe Constitution provides that: “No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other such treatment.”  Zimbabwe has ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which specifically prohibit torture in Articles 5 and 7 respectively.

The 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture, defines “torture “as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or psychological, 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 is regrettable that the country has had an unfortunate legacy of torture which has since illegally amounted to state policy since independence. Human rights activist, lawyers; journalist, political activist and political leaders have been among those who have fallen victim. 

Understanding that torture causes serious physical and psychological irreparable damage, ROHR Zimbabwe notes with concern that in cases in which the state is accused of carrying out torture on the members of the public, the victims have stood no chance of restitution even when they are vindicated by the law.

ROHR Zimbabwe challenges the inclusive government to guarantee the right to a free trial for every citizen without discrimination on the grounds of political affiliation.

ROHR Information Department

For Peace, Justice and Freedom