IRCT Report: Organised Violence and Torture in Zimbabwe

The AMANI Trust, through Council Member Anthony Reeler, requested the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) to undertake a fact-finding visit to Zimbabwe with the greatest urgency. The current situation indicates that organised violence and torture is taking place on a very large scale, and that this requires independent verification.

Three areas of particular concern were identified:

• allegations that doctors have been involved in or condoned torture;
• allegations that health workers have been targeted by organised violence and torture;
• allegations that health services to victims of organised violence have been disrupted and that health workers have been prevented from rendering assistance to victims.

The current report is based on information compiled from both a wide range of sources and researched locally by the IRCT delegation. The IRCT delegation visited Zimbabwe from 29 May to 6 June 2000. The delegation comprised Maria Piniou- Kalli, MD, IRCT President and specialist dermatologist, Inge Genefke, MD.DMSc hc, IRCT Secretary-General and specialist neurologist, and Soraya Usmani Martinez, IRCT Project Coordinator for Sub Saharan Africa.

The IRCT is an independent, international health professional organisation which promotes and supports the rehabilitation of torture victims and works for the prevention of torture worldwide.

Established in 1985, the IRCT is comprised of an International Council with its headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. The IRCT Headquarters employs 46 staff, including 14 international employees, representing the global reach of the work of the IRCT. The IRCT promotes and support the rehabilitation of torture victims and the prevention of torture in collaboration with nearly 200 rehabilitation centres and programs worldwide. The rehabilitation centres form a unique network comprised of health professionals around the world providing rehabilitation treatment and support to victims of torture, often in very difficult circumstances and at great personal risk.

The IRCT works towards the global eradication of torture by providing support to new and existing rehabilitation centres and programmes worldwide, as well as through documentation, information and training. The IRCT is recognised internationally for its work against torture and has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The IRCT has held a long-term interest in Southern Africa in general, and with Zimbabwe in particular. In 1990, the IRCT organised the “International Conference on the Consequences of Organised Violence in Southern Africa”. The AMANI Trust, which was formed in 1993, currently holds the position of the IRCT Africa Region Co-ordinating Centre. The IRCT has received regular reports on Zimbabwe (see Appendix A), as well as regular briefings on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.

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Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.