Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Ban on torture must have no exceptions

Elsewhere in this edition, we report that government has paid $150 000 in compensation to prominent rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko over torture she was subjected to by State agents in 2008 over trumped-up terrorism charges.

Jestina Mukoko being escorted to court
Jestina Mukoko being escorted to court

settlement, the first of its kind on such a scale paid by government to a victim of torture, follows years of legal proceedings brought by Mukoko’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.

Mtetwa argued there was serious violation of several of her fundamental rights by State security agents, including being subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, including simulated drowning, being locked in a freezer and being subjected to physical assaults to make her confess to plotting to overthrow the Robert Mugabe administration.

Our appeal to the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led administration is to end a pervasive policy of impunity for crimes of torture committed by State agents.

Systematic use of torture in Zimbabwe must stop. As rightly noted by the High Court in the Mukoko damages ruling, the perpetrators and policymakers responsible for years of gruesome abuse must also be brought to justice, and the victims receive compensation or rehabilitation.

The compensation must not only end with Mukoko.

Failure to prosecute the crime of torture is in clear violation of the convention against torture.

The $150 000 damages suit sends a strong message that the days of complacency and impunity to perpetrators of torture is over.

The ban on torture and ill-treatment must be absolute with no exceptions whatsoever.

This is one of the most fundamental norms of international law, and its violation is listed among the most serious international crimes, including crimes against humanity.

No circumstances, however, exceptional and well argued, may be invoked to justify torture. More-so singling out political opponents for vindictive treatment through the use of torture.

What must follow after these torture damages is truth-telling. A society bruised by torture and abuse can heal only when the truth about secret policies and practices is fully disclosed to the public and when full reparation, rehabilitation is granted to victims.

The nation needs to know what happened to Mukoko when she was abducted from her Norton home on December 3, 2008 and tortured before being handed over to the police 19 days later.

It’s vital that all State and non-State actors stand up for basic human rights values, and ensure some of the most vulnerable people in society receive the right protection. Daily News.