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ZLHR urges govt to ratify convention against torture

HORIZONTAL

Zimstar News

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has implored government to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture amid the continued victimisation of government critics.

The international law has been ratified by 162 world countries.

Zimbabwe has seen continued acts of torture on opposition activists mostly in the hands of state security agents usually with no form of punishment visited upon the perpetrators.

Despite the transgressions, Zimbabwe is still to domesticate the instrument, which however remains binding on the country despite the apparent snub.

HORIZONTAL

In a Sunday statement to mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, ZLHR called on Zimbabwean authorities to invest some commitment towards protecting the fundamental rights of citizens.

“ZLHR therefore urges the Zimbabwean authorities to comply with the Torture Convention, in accordance with their international law obligations.

“The authorities are also urged to speedily ratify the Torture Convention and join the rest of the world in protecting fundamental human rights,” said the group.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is commemorated annually on 26 June in order to honour the victims and survivors of the crime of torture.

HORIZONTAL

Zimbabwe has seen horrendous acts of torture on activists with the most common cases being the 2008 abduction and torture of prominent rights defender Jestina Mukoko and a handful opposition activists who were accused of plotting against government.

None of the activists was convicted for the alleged crimes.

Justly recently, hilarious opposition CCC supporter Godfrey Karembera popularly known as Madzibaba ve Shanduko was seized by police details on patrol in Harare’s CBD and subjected to torture which left him hospitalised.

ZLHR STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE

ON this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) encourages the public to provide the necessary support to all victims of this evil crime.

ZLHR also urges the authorities to implement comprehensive reform measures that will lead to eradication of all forms of torture in the country as mandated by international law and the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The authorities should also ensure that all perpetrators of the heinous crime of torture are held accountable for transgressions.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is commemorated annually on 26 June in order to honour the victims and survivors of the crime of torture. It is important for everyone to reflect on the lives of the victims of torture, the survivors of the heinous practice and the families who are impacted by the trauma inflicted on their loved ones. It is also important for everyone to support victims of torture and their families through financial and social assistance.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is an opportunity for everyone to demand an end to the egregious practice of torture by public officials and their agents. It is also an opportunity for citizens, all over the globe, to lobby their governments to take steps towards the prosecution of all perpetrators of the abominable crime of torture. It is also an opportunity for the public to reflect on the world’s commitment to eradicating torture, as entrenched in the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which came into effect on 26 June 1987 (the Torture Convention).

Unfortunately, this Torture Convention has not yet been ratified by the Zimbabwean authorities. Nevertheless, this important instrument has been ratified by at least 162 nations worldwide and it is now regarded as part of customary international law. The Torture Convention is therefore binding on all nations of the world, including Zimbabwe. ZLHR therefore urges the Zimbabwean authorities to comply with the Torture Convention, in accordance with their international law obligations. The authorities are also urged to speedily ratify the Torture Convention and join the rest of the world in protecting fundamental human rights.

Despite the fact that the Zimbabwean authorities have not yet ratified the Torture Convention, the Constitution of Zimbabwe obliges the authorities to protect everyone from torture. In terms of section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, no person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Importantly, section 86(3)(c) of the Constitution states that the right not to be tortured is absolute and may not be violated or limited in any circumstances. The Constitution, in section 51 and section 52, also entrenches everyone’s right to human dignity and bodily and psychological integrity, respectively. ZLHR continues to represent many victims of torture to claim monetary awards against their perpetrators. ZLHR urges the authorities to comply with their constitutional obligations by implementing measures that are aimed at preventing torture in Zimbabwe’s detention centres, prisons, police stations and communities at large. ZLHR also urges the authorities to ensure that all perpetrators of torture are held accountable for their crimes, through criminal prosecutions and other remedies that are aimed at compensating the victims of torture.

On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, ZLHR calls upon:

• The public to continue to support all victims and survivors of the evil crime of torture;

• The Zimbabwean authorities to implement comprehensive reform measures that are designed to prevent and eradicate torture;

• The authorities to comply with their constitutional obligation of protecting everyone from torture;

• The authorities to ensure that all perpetrators of the deplorable crime of torture are held accountable for their crimes;

• The authorities to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

ENDS

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