THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

African Commission must urgently tackle Zimbabwe torture
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
May 25, 2007

Visit the special index page on the mistreatment of the legal profession in Zimbabwe

REDRESS, the international NGO working to obtain justice and reparation for torture survivors, today calls on the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) to firmly address Zimbabwe's torture record, which is rapidly spiraling out of control.

Recently, human rights lawyers in particular have been targeted, including Zimbabwe Law Society President Ms Beatrice Mtetwa who earlier this month was severely beaten by police when she and other human rights defenders were participating in a peaceful protest outside the Harare High Court.

"This blatant and public attack puts torture into the spotlight and cannot be ignored," said Carla Ferstman, REDRESS' Director.

Ms. Mtetwa and her colleagues are the latest victims of an alarming new trend of violence.

Starting in March 2007, we have seen the open serious assaults on high profile MDC leaders including Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as the abduction and torture of students, trade unionists and journalists. Beatings and other forms of torture are no longer only taking place behind closed doors but are now deliberately unleashed in public.

The ACHPR is well placed to act and must send a clear message that torture is unacceptable in all circumstances.

The latest trend must be seen in the context of the deteriorating human rights situation over the last decade. In a recent Report produced by REDRESS and four other leading international human rights organizations - ZIMBABWE: Human Rights in Crisis - REDRESS analyses the endemic nature of torture in Zimbabwe and shows how torture survivors have little if any realistic prospect of obtaining reparations under the present regime:

"The Zimbabwe Government continues to be responsible for widespread and systematic human rights violations, including torture, and there is little sign of either a decline in violations or of any serious action to investigate allegations and prosecute offenders" said REDRESS' Director. "There have been numerous reports of victims who have tried to report an abuse to the police, only to be detained and further abused by the police themselves," she said.

The REDRESS chapter includes several high-profile case studies where torture survivors were subjected to severe beatings, electric shocks, water immersion, or falanga, including journalists, opposition activists (grass-roots workers as well as an MP and human rights lawyer) and even Zanu-PF supporters involved in factional disputes.


The Report ZIMBABWE: Human Rights in Crisis, was submitted this month as a Shadow Report to the ACHPR meeting in Ghana from 16-30 May 2007, in response to Zimbabwe lodging its first periodic State Party report on the status of human rights protection to the Commission since 1996. The fact that five international human rights organisations have come together to produce this Shadow Report illustrates the gravity of abuse, contrary to the view of the Zimbabwe Government in its State Party report that it has shown commitment to the development and protection of human rights. In seeking to ensure that all the information gathered is made available to the ACHPR to determine the status of human rights violations in Zimbabwe in the last ten years, the Shadow Report addresses the following key areas: Human rights violations during the land ownership reform programme and Operation Murambatsvina (the forcible clearing of slums) (Human Rights Watch); Attacks on the rule of law (International Bar Association); Torture and ill treatment (REDRESS); Violation of the rights of freedom of association and assembly (Amnesty International);Violations of the right of freedom of expression (ARTICLE 19).

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.