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State agents fingered in human rights abuse

Augustine Mukaro

ZIMBABWE Human Rights NGO Forum, a coalition of human rights groups and legal organisations, has identified state agencies, the Central Intelligence Org

anisation (CIO), police and the army as the main perpetrators of violence and torture over the past eight years.

In its latest report titled “An Analysis of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Legal Cases, 1998-2006”, the NGO Forum says there is “abundant evidence that state agents have carried out torture “on a massive scale” particularly during elections.

The NGO Forum reported over 15 500 violations of human rights cases in the past eight years, but said only 300 cases have entered the initial phases of litigation.

“The Human Rights Forum has published 60 monthly political violence reports since July 2001 in which there are monthly statistics for the organised violence and torture that has taken place,” the report says. “A total of 15 523 violations cases have been reported.”

Only 51 of these cases went to their conclusion, with the state being held accountable in 89% of cases, it said.

“The Zimbabwe government itself is conceding liability for the perpetration of gross human rights violations,” the report says. The Forum said it would send its report to the United Nations to press for further action against government.

Police were cited as the most common perpetrators.

“People in detention are generally at a much greater risk of abuse unless there are extremely strong safeguards in place governing the process of detaining people,” reads the report. “People in custody are likely to be beaten irrespective of their alleged crime, political or criminal, and are commonly subjected to falanga – the excruciatingly painful practice of beating the soles of the feet, which leaves little obvious bruising.”

Police had “adopted torture as a means to eliciting confessions on a widespread basis”, the report says.

Harare Central police station has been cited as the worst station where people have suffered severe torture.

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