THE majority of Zimbabwe’s population, estimated at around 13 million people, has been tortured by State security apparatus in one way or the other and required some form of compensation, renowned human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama has said.
Muchadehama, who is a member of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO-Forum, told NewsDay yesterday that the country needed to create structures that will assist victims of State torture to receive compensation.
His comments come as Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world to commemorate the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The commemorations comes against an upsurge in cases of abuse by suspected State security agents.
Taken from Newsday
“If we talk about psychological and physical torture, then the majority of Zimbabweans are victims of the country’s ruling elite. We certainly all need some kind of help, but our problem is there is nothing in terms of structures outside the normal civil procedures that victims can take in order to be compensated by the State,” Muchadehama said.
The commemorations are held annually on June 26 to advocate against the crime of torture and to honour and support victims and survivors throughout the world.
Several opposition activists have disappeared, tortured psychologically and physically by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) since Independence in 1980 with over 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands reportedly killed by the army during the infamous Gukurahundi massacres.
In the last 15 years, the regime reportedly used violence and torture to crush opposition MDC-T party supporters with at least 200 killed by State security agents in the 2008 elections. MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said: “Zimbabweans need self-introspection and consider if the use of these tactics against political opponents are acceptable in the 21st century more so under a black government. The 2008 election in particular remains a dark spot on the country’s political history.”
Muchadehama said by refusing to sign the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Mugabe’s government has virtually admitted to impunity.
“The government’s refusal is a clear admission and acknowledgement that it sanctions torture as a tool of extracting information from those arrested on various crimes. Victims of torture need support including psycho-social support,” he said.
Former Home Affairs minister and opposition Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa, a victim of State torture in the early 80s, said there were horrific tales by citizens at the hands of the CIO.
“These torture tactics were inherited from the Rhodesian regime, but the government has perfected these. We are worried that government continues to dither on signing to international conventions that protect citizens against State accesses. That is an indication we are ready to continue abusing our own,” Dabengwa said.