Although the act of torture is prohibited by the laws of Zimbabwe, torture continues to be widely reported. Torture is contrary to s.15 of the Constitution as well as a crime within the ordinary laws of Zimbabwe. Furthermore, Zimbabwe is signatory to a number of treaties and conventions that specifically prohibit torture such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Convention on Human and People’s Rights. Although Zimbabwe has not ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, the Parliament of Zimbabwe last year recommended that the Government to do so, but this is yet to be done by the President.
It is up to the state to ensure that acts of torture are prevented, and, if committed, that the perpetrators are prosecuted. As has been said by Amnesty International, “torturers are not born, they are nurtured, trained and supported.” It is the active involvement, acquiescence or inaction of the state that allows torture to thrive in any setting. Thus, the first step to putting an end to torture in Zimbabwe requires the government to recognize the existence and practice of organised violence and torture in Zimbabwe, and, secondly, to put an end to the impunity enjoyed by its perpetrators.
This analysis deals with the extent to which this has been done.