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‘Prosecute abductors’

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) yesterday called for a probe and prosecution of government officials who were behind the violation of Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) director Jestina Mukoko’s constitutional rights when she was last year abducted, tortured and detained incommunicado by state agents.

Mukoko, a leading human rights activist, was abducted from her Norton home on December 3 and only appeared in court three weeks later facing allegations of recruiting MDC-T youths to undergo military training in Botswana to unseat President Robert Mugabe’s regime.

The Supreme Court, sitting as a constitutional court, on Monday permanently stayed prosecution of Mukoko on the grounds that her constitutional rights were violated by her captors.

Irene Petras, the ZLHR director, commenting on the court’s ruling, said the state security agents behind Mukoko’s abduction should be investigated and prosecuted as this would restore confidence in the justice delivery system.

“Immediate and concerted action should be taken to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the violations,” Petras told journalists in the capital. “This would assist in restoring confidence in the justice delivery system.”

She accused prosecutors who dealt with Mukoko’s case of failing to perform their duties according to the Africa Union  Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance.

Petras said prosecutors have the duty to be aware of and apply constitutional and statutory protections for suspects and victims and ensure also their human rights and fundamental freedoms are observed.

“In any democratic society such untenable failures would lead to the head of the affected institution — in this case the Attorney-General — resigning his or her position,” she said. “At the very least we would expect in a democratic society to see such public officials publicly accepting responsibility for the professional and ethical failures of those who prosecute on his or her behalf.”

Wongai Zhangazha

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