Honourable Chairperson, Commissioners, the Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and invited guests, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) welcomes the remark made by the Chairperson on the Robben Island Guideline. In addition to what has already been stated the Forum would like to highlight to the commission the continued deterioration of the situation in Zimbabwe as it relates to torture.
Human Rights violations in Zimbabwe have been on the increase since 1998, with the greatest number of violation ever in 2007. At the end of the year the Forum recorded 9298 violation of human rights up from 6092 in 2006. Of the 9298 violations recorded in 2008, 586 of these were cases of torture. This represents an increase of 218 incidents from the 368 recorded for the same period in 2006. Madam Chair torture is still widespread in Zimbabwe with the Forum recording 36 cases of torture between January 2008 and March 2008 alone. The practice remains prevalent in places of detention and continues to be used by the Zimbabwe Republic Police as their preferred method of investigation.
Madam Chairperson it is important to note that the trend has changed following the much disputed harmonized election that took place on 29th March 2008. Zimbabwe has over the past few weeks following the elections been ravished by a strike of violent retributive attacks that have been done and/or sanctioned by the Government. Article 1 of the UN Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment defines torture to also included acts that are instigated for or with the consent and acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. Madam Chair these retributive acts have been carried out with the acquiescence of the ruling party and the service chief and can best be described as acts of torture. Operation Mavoterapapi (how did you vote) as it has been coined has been a systematic attempt by the ZANU (PF) Government to coerce the people of Zimbabwe to vote for their party candidate.
The Forum therefore echoes the sentiments of the Forum for the Participation of NGOs and calls upon the Commission to set up a Fact Finding Mission which includes the Chairperson for the Working Group on the Robben Island Guidelines. Further that the Commission makes a recommendation condemning in the strongest terms possible the post election violence that has adversely affected the people of Zimbabwe.