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End Torture!

Statement by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on International Day in Support of Victims Against Torture 

June 26, 2024

Today, the 26th of June 2024, is the International Day in Support of Victims Against Torture, a day set aside to speak out against the crime of torture and to honor and support victims and survivors throughout the world. 

To mark this day, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition issues this statement as yet another call to the government of Zimbabwe to not only accede to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment but to also take urgent and practical steps to end torture and any forms of degrading treatment as a form of punishment.

The UN defines torture as ‘any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

Although Zimbabwe has yet to ratify the Torture Convention, the Constitution of Zimbabwe gives an obligation to the State to all citizens from any form of torture. 

Section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly states that ‘ no person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
In addition,  Section 86(3)(c) of the same Constitution states that the right not to be tortured is absolute and may not be violated or limited in any circumstances, and in Section 51 and Section 52, it entrenches everyone’s right to human dignity and bodily and psychological integrity, respectively. 

In the context of Zimbabwe, it is clear that torture, in its many forms, has been used by state security, and law enforcement agents, shadowy vigilante groups linked to the State and the ruling party, and political party activists.

What has been more worrying is the levels of impunity, which have seen perpetrators not being held accountable, and in some instances, being rewarded.

Only last week, police arrested and beat up 89 members of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC),  for holding a private meeting to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprisings at a private residency.

. The recent incidents are part of a pattern that the country has experienced in the past 44 years of its independence.

Regrettably, the end of the liberation struggle in 1980 was supposed to mean the end of the use of torture, and the coming in of democratic and humane methods of law enforcement and political contestation, but instead, we have continued to witness the widespread use of degrading treatment mostly when it comes to how the State and the ruling party deals with political dissent. 

It is within this context that we believe that Zimbabweans deserve a genuine process to heal the wounds of those who have suffered from torture from the colonial period to this day.

 We strongly call on the government of Zimbabwe to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, including the recently arrested Citizens Coalition for Change members.

  • Conduct transparent, independent investigations into all instances of state-sponsored violence, and abductions that Zimbabwe has endured for decades. Ensure perpetrators are held accountable.

  • Uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly as guaranteed in the African Charter.

  • Engage in genuine, inclusive dialogue with the political opposition and civil society to chart a path towards democratic reform and respect for human rights.

We call on civil society organizations in Zimbabwe and the international community to:

  • Provide comprehensive rehabilitation, medical, and psychosocial support services for victims of torture and their families. Ensure survivors have access to justice and redress mechanisms.

  • Advocate for the ratification and implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by the government of Zimbabwe.

The people of Zimbabwe deserve to live in a country that protects their fundamental freedoms and human dignity. We stand in unwavering solidarity with all Zimbabweans fighting for justice and democratic change. The world is watching, and the government must be held to account for its abuses.

Marvellous Kumalo

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition


+263 77 637 9966

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