HomeBusiness DigestScepticism over govt’s rights move

Scepticism over govt’s rights move

The convention came into effect in June 1987, but Zimbabwe refused to endorse it.

Chinamasa, who was recently delisted from the European Union sanctions list, said once ratified this would allow for the prosecution of those alleged to have used torture in the process of investigating crimes.

Only last year Chinamasa defended the country’s human rights record at a UN human rights conference in Geneva saying Zimbabwe had reformed its constitution on several occasions to improve the country’s human rights situation.

However, the MDC formations and civil society have long claimed the existence of secret torture chambers used by state security agents to torture political activists.

A social justice commentator, Edmore Tshuma, doubted government’s commitment saying the prospect of the Zimbabwe government ratifying the UN convention against torture would be a dramatic irony.

Tshuma said it perhaps was a gimmick designed to measure the public’s latest views about President Robert Mugabe’s long reign.

“Everyone knows that Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in the world in which the state has used torture as a weapon to silence the opposition and perceived detractors,” said Tshuma. “The only way Zimbabwe can get out of this is through amnesty up to a certain period, but as it is, there are even non-state actors acting on behalf of Zanu PF. This does not exonerate them,” said Tshuma.

Two civil society groups  in Johannesburg recently launched a legal bid to compel South African authorities to investigate and prosecute Zimbabwean officials accused of crimes against humanity.

The Southern African Litigation Centre and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum said there were 18 high-level Zimbabwean officials in South Africa accused of committing acts of torture.

The application was lodged in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria last week and is set to be heard on March 26.

The MDC-T claims hundreds of its supporters were killed by suspected Zanu PF supporters and state security agents in the run-up to the controversial 2008 presidential election runoff which Mugabe eventually contested alone after then opposition leader and current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out in protest over alleged state-sponsored violence.

Efforts to have perpetrators prosecuted in Zimbabwe have thus far hit a brick wall.

Another human rights activist Albert Nxumalo said at face value Chinamasa’s move should be applauded, but viewed with great caution.
“My take is that Chinamasa and company now realise that the lobby by human rights groups to the international community to arrest and send perpetrators to the Hague is gaining recognition,” said Nxumalo.

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