International Day in Solidarity with Victims of Torture Commemoration – 29 – 30 June 2019
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Ngo Forum (the Forum) and ZimRights held a road show at Entumbane Shopping Complex in Bulawayo to stand in solidarity with the victims of torture. The location was selected on the basis of being a historic torture hotspot from as far back as the Gukurahundi massacres and to the current #ZimShutDown protests. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) also partnered with the Forum and ZimRights in this commemoration held under the theme, ‘No to Torture, Ratify Now!’
The purpose of the commemoration was to keep in perspective the total need for eradication of torture, to raise awareness on the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CAT) and to allow victims and relatives of victims to have a moment to just unite and have a lighter moment of reflection. The road show brought live entertainment that brought the community together.
The Forum also proceeded to conclude the commemoration with a studio breakfast show on 30 June 2019 were the Secretariat interacted with listeners on Skyz Metro FM radio. The Forum explained what torture is and gave listeners toll free numbers to call on in the event of any violations of human rights.
• To advocate for and raise awareness on the Convention against Torture.
• To stand in solidarity with victims of torture.
• To increase socialisation for more resilient communities.
Profile of Participants
The commemorations were supported by ZimRights, Media Monitors, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission. The participants where at least 250 as established from the number of fact sheets handed out with 50 % of participants being youths, 25 % being young children and 25 % being the elderly. The event was covered live on Skyz Metro FM radio, which coverage increased the numbers of people who were able to learn more about the Convention against Torture. The participants came from mostly Entumbane and Njube areas in Bulawayo.
The road show was opened by Methembe Hadebe from Zimbabwe Peace Project who mentioned the objectives of the road show and called participants to gather close for an insightful event. He called Mr Mandinde to introduce the Forum who explained the work of the Forum and greeted the participants. ZimRights and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission also introduced themselves through their representatives and the road show was off to a great start.
Methembe Hadebe started off by explaining torture briefly stating their mandate as ZPP and how they want an end to violence. He mentioned their commitment to a torture free society. Celia Mukwewa reaffirmed the commitment of the Forum and Zim Rights to a torture free Zimbabwe and explained what the Convention against Torture (CAT) is. The Government was called upon to ratify CAT and the benefits of the treaty were explained to the participants. Key benefits of the CAT were mentioned such as;
• the provision of a definition of torture,
• the benefit of ratification leading to legislation being promulgated to criminalise torture
• the benefit of jurisdiction of state parties to the CAT to effect arrests on torture perpetrators running from their countries
• the training of police officers and prison officers to uphold the convention
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission gave their solidarity statement saying no to torture. The participants were given an in depth background to the ZHRC and its mandate. The ZHRC explained its role to handle complaints and investigate any human rights violations such as torture. Media Monitors gave their Solidarity Statement as well explaining the dangers faced by media professionals in the conduct of their work. He mentioned how journalists are at risk of torture from the police and called for an end to torture and for perpetrators to be held accountable.
Questions and Answers
The participants were engaged in the question and answer session. The Skyz Metro FM radio presenter engaged with the participants calling on volunteers to answer key questions. The following where key questions asked;
• What is torture?
• What organisations where organising the event and their role?
• What is the benefit of CAT?
• What is the role of the ZHRC?
• What do you do if a victim of torture?
The participants were able to answer these questions stating that torture is psychological or physical. The volunteers demonstrated having fully understood the solidarity statements.
The entertainment for the event was captivating drawing the participants to engage fully. The disc jockey played music for the participants and the radio presenter called on volunteers to dance on stage. Young people and the elderly, male and females engaged and took the challenge to dance and won coffee mugs, towels and exercise books. The dance group then went on stage and did themed dances while the participants cheered and laughed at some of the moves. To end the day was poetry on Torture presented by Desire Moyo which defined torture and cited key features of torture incidents in Matabeleland. The participants were engaged. The radio presenter then called for some participants to say what they understood. They explained that they were able to appreciate what torture is and wanted a Zimbabwe free from it. Some were able to greet their relatives and neighbours live on the radio stating their presence in commemorating international day in solidarity with victims of torture.
Wilbert Mandinde closed the event calling for the Government to ratify the convention against torture. He called for an end to torture in all forms and advised that those who find themselves with challenges they should reach out to the Forum and its members for assistance.
Breakfast Radio Session
On 30 June 2019, the Forum concluded the commemorations with a morning breakfast session at Skyz Metro FM radio where Wilbert Mandinde, Thobekile Matimbe and Fortune Kuhudzehwe took time to tell the listeners about the Forum, the definition and forms of torture, the CAT and the benefits of ratification of CAT to the ordinary Zimbabwean. The Forum provided its contact details to the listeners for any assistance sought.
In commemorating international day in solidarity with victims of torture, the following were the outcomes;
• Increased awareness of CAT;
• Increased calls on Government to ratify CAT;
• Increased socialisation of the community promoting peaceful resilient communities.
The International Day in Solidarity with victims of torture is a day well commemorated. Sadly, year in and year out the call continues to be a broken record of saying no to torture without a firm commitment by the Government to take action to ratify the Convention against torture. The Forum continues to remind the Government, as provided in its press statement presented on the 26th of June, of section 53 which guarantees freedom from torture in the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No. 20).