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  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • SAHRIT condemns the use of torture and warns perpetrators of legal consequencies thereof
    Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa (SAHRIT)
    March 14, 2007

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    SAHRIT as a Human Rights Non Governmental Organization condemns any form of violence irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator. We are horrified by the emerging indisputable and overwhelming evidence that some leaders and supporters of the SAVE ZIMBABWE CAMPAIGN were subjected to torture at the time of arrest and/or while in police custody. We condemn in the strongest possible terms such glaring breach of constitutional and human rights.

    SAHRIT regrets the death of Gift Tandare, an MDC activist, who at the time was exercising his fundamental rights of association and assembly. The barbaric attacks on the leadership and all supporters of the SAVE ZIMBABWE CAMPAIGN are condemned in the strongest of terms. SAHRIT also condemns in the strongest possible terms the denial of fundamental freedoms of freedom of assembly, association and participation by citizens in the governing of one’s country.

    SAHRIT would like to warn all those involved in the alleged torture that the crime of torture is an international crime that attracts individual criminal responsibility. The prohibition of torture is an absolute prohibition and admits no exception (not even a state of emergency would justify the use of torture as there are lawful and effective ways of dealing with lawlessness). All those that are engaging in acts of torture either directly or indirectly, irrespective of rank face the risk of prosecution not only under our law but in terms of international law. We categorically state that ‘superior orders’ are not a defense to an allegation of torture. The protection provided for in terms of the Police Act does not extend to the crime of torture. Those issuing the instructions for the commission of torture are equally subject to international law.

    We encourage all the victims of torture to the extent possible to try and properly secure all the details and information of the circumstances of the torture including the identity of the torturer or such information as would lead to the identity of the said torturers for possible future prosecution.

    The Government of Zimbabwe is under a legal duty to provide an effective remedy to all breaches of human rights. The state is therefore under a duty to effectively investigate and prosecute all those alleged to have committed the said torture. Any official who deliberately covers up the details of the alleged torture may be guilty of complicity in the torture. They too equally face the risk of prosecution under international law.

    For the avoidance of doubt we wish to state that the allegation that the leaders of the SAVE ZIMBABWE CAMPAIGN and their supporters were engaged in some unlawful activities is no justification for the use of torture. SAHRIT states that the purported ban of all political rallies by the "regulatory authorities" in terms of the Public Order and Security Act are illegal on the grounds that these regulatory authorities have exceeded the powers that are given to them by the Act. SAHRIT fully supports any legal action that will be taken by the victims of torture to prosecute the perpetrators.

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