Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Torture in Zimbabwe

Below I post a letter concerning torture in Zimbabwe Letter sent to the Chair, Vice-Chair, Members and Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples, as I received it today and think it is important. All eyes on Iraq, while Zimbabwe burns.

Torture in Zimbabwe

Letter sent to the Chair, Vice-Chair, members and Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Dear Mr. Rezag-Bara, Mrs. Johm and members

We wish to bring to your attention the continuing and deepening human rights abuses being perpetrated in Zimbabwe, most notably the increasing use of torture and associated cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment. As you are well aware, in terms of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights - let alone other regional and international instruments - such practices are prohibited. Furthermore, such practices and the apparent silence of your Commission in condemning the same, make a mockery of the recent adoption by your Commission of The Robben Island Guidelines; the Guidelines and Measures for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment IN AFRICA.

In this regard, we attach hereto statements from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, the Zimbabwe Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, The Zimbabwe Legal Resources Foundation, and ex-Director of Amani Trust in Zimbabwe, concerning the flagrant recent instances of torture, notably on a prominent opposition MP and a young human rights lawyer (Gabriel Shumba),and threats of violence against civil society organisations.

It is indeed ironic and utterly incomprehensible and despicable that such abuses not only occur but do so in a country which has a government official as one of the nine other members of your Commission - namely, Mr Andrew Chigovera of Zimbabwe's Attorney General's Office. An added cruel irony is that another member of your Commission, Dr. Pityana, is actually a member of the academic staff at the University of South Africa in Pretoria - where Mr Shumba was, until a few weeks ago, a post graduate student in human rights!

For the dignity, soul and above all, the people, of Africa we call upon you to condemn such gross human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, to formally request Mr Chigovera to report to the commission on the same or else request that he relinquish his membership forthwith, and to immediately initiate a process to send an investigation mission to Zimbabwe.

Please be assured that we, and thousands of individuals and many organisations throughout Africa and the world, are recording and documenting in detail instances of torture and its perpetrators in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, and stand committed to cooperating with your Commission as you may require, and as requested by your Commission in terms of The Robben Island Guidelines. In this regard we are sure you will concur with us in welcoming the fact that today torturers, and those who abet torture, may hide but cannot run ..... witness Mengistu, Amin, Sharon .... and even when they hide the closing net of universal justice closes...witness Pinochet, Habre ... and international criminal tribunals prosecute .... witness Akayesu, Kambanda, Tadic, Milosevich.

We wish you continued progress in your endeavours.

Yours sincerely

H. Humamondira

Secretary AFRICARights (Association For Renaissance In the Countries of Africa Reborn)


Please find above for your information, a letter sent to the Chair, Vice-Chair, members and Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. For your future purposes, should you so require, the email addresses of the Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary of the Commission are respectively: mkrezagbara@hotmail.com or rezbakam@wissal.gm; fjohm@aviso.ci or jaijohm@hotmail.com; and secretary@achpr.gm or gerbaricako1@hotmail.com. Note this is also sent to selected international organisations and officials, but you are welcome - indeed encouraged - to forward it to whom you may consider appropriate. H. Humamondira (Secretary)

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