Govt must stop rhetoric on torture

Govt must stop rhetoric on torture

Notwithstanding Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s declaration in Parliament that torture is illegal in Zimbabwe because the country is party to the international treaty against the practice, it is always important to walk the talk because saying something is one thing, but doing it is another.

Source: Govt must stop rhetoric on torture – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 3, 2017

Comment: NewsDay Editor

It is an open secret in Zimbabwe that many people that are arrested – from the prominent to the ordinary – have been subjected to one kind of torture or another at the hands of the police.

Many such people often raise complaints to that effect against the police when they are brought for their initial remand hearing at court.

Concern was raised in Parliament recently by MDC-T MP Emma Muzondiwa, who wanted the Vice-President to explain if law enforcement agents are allowed to torture people under investigation.

While it is encouraging that Mnangagwa urged people to report all such incidents to his Justice ministry, one wonders at the honesty of it given how complaints are repeatedly raised in court, meaning there was need already for the government to look into the issue.

While the cases raised in court could just be a tip of the iceberg, many people – especially those who are not represented in court by legal practitioners – would rather keep it to themselves because they have lost trust in the country’s justice system.

What with the documented torture of high-profile individuals such as Zimbabwe Peace Project boss Jestina Mukoko by suspected State security agents?

Mnangagwa explained that Zimbabwe is yet to ratify the treaty and that raises a lot of eyebrows. Why the reluctance on a subject of such importance?

This is probably one of the reasons why people, not just accused persons, have been subjected to torture with no action taken because there can be no international accountability as long as the treaty has not been signed or is not being adhered to as has been the case in Zimbabwe.

It is hoped that government will do a serious self-introspection and look into this matter so that necessary action is taken to ensure that the rights of arrested people are protected by law at all costs.