Statement to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ 45th Ordinary Session under Agenda Item 7(iv)

Honorable Chairperson, Commissioners, the Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, distinguished participants, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) welcomes the report by the Working Group on the Implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines. Regrettably the Government of Zimbabwe has not taken any effective steps towards the implementation of these very important Guidelines. The practice of torture in Zimbabwe remains rampart. Torture remains the preferred method of investigation by the Zimbabwe Republic Police; it is used against suspects in the process of interrogations in a bid to extract evidence and/or confessions. Torture is
also used against human rights defenders and opposition political activists. The recent cases of the arrest and torture of Jestina Mukoko, a board member of the Forum, and other activists substantiate these averments. Common methods of torture used in Zimbabwe include Falanga (beating on the soles of the feet), mock drowning, and whipping among others.

Unfortunately, torture is not criminalized under Zimbabwean law. This leaves victims of torture with no recourse or effective remedy at the domestic level, hence the various Communications lodged with this Commission on this aspect. The perpetrators are also charged with lesser offences, if at all. Zimbabwe has also not taken any steps towards the ratification and domestication of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment despite the repeated assurances that have been given to this Commission.

The Forum calls upon the African Commission to urge the government of Zimbabwe to take steps to ensure the respect, promotion and protection of the best practices enshrined in the Robben Island Guidelines. The Forum also calls on the African Commission to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to ratify and domesticate CAT, to domesticate the African Charter and observe article 5 therefore which proscribes torture.

Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.