Statement on the Rule of Law and the Continuing Torture and Ill-treatment of Political Opponents

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum wishes to express its continuing concern for the failure by the President and the Government to affirm their serious commitment to the rule of law, and additionally for the Government to take positive steps to ensure an end to the political violence.

As regards the rule of law, we would note the following:

  1. The continuing attacks upon the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, by a large number of Government Ministers, ZanuPF officials, and “war veterans”.
  2. The blatant use of hate speech and racist rhetoric by the same parties indicated above, which are contrary to the Constitution and to the laws of the country. President and the Government have a Constitutional duty to ensure that plurality of views is protected.
  3. The failure by the Government to obey the rulings of the High Court in respect of the rights of citizens to property.  All citizens have a right to free and untrammeled use of their property unless lawfully restricted by the State, and, until such time as there are proper and lawful mechanisms for changing property rights, the State has a Constitutional duty to ensure protection of citizens.
  4. The failure by the Government to ensure that the Zimbabwe Republic Police carry out their duties under the Constitution and the Police Act. Here it is important to stress the singular failure of the police to provide protection for persons whose property rights are currently being infringed through the “land invasions”.
  5. The failure by the Government to condemn the Commissioner of Police for a blatantly partisan statement. The Commissioner’s responsibility, under the Constitution and the Police Act, is to ensure the proper application of the law without political favour or bias, and to immediately constitute a disciplinary hearing for the Commissioner in terms of the Police Act.
  6. The continuing attacks upon journalists, and the press. The attacks upon the freedom of the press constitute a very grave situation, and undermine the basic rights of all citizens to have access to information about the nation. The most recent attacks on the Daily News by “war veterans” has now resulted in Sunday’s bombing, and this must be most strongly condemned by the President and the Government, with a serious investigation into discovering the perpetrators.
  7. The attacks upon trade unions exercising their basic right to industrial action. The rights of workers to lawful action are protected under the Constitution, and the Government must take immediate steps to ensure that these are protected.

We thus call upon the President and the Government to take immediate steps to redress these situations and to institute investigations under the law of all parties who are in breach of the laws as indicated above.

As regards the violence, we note the following:

  1. We deprecate all political violence by all political parties at all times.
  2. We note, with the gravest possible concern, that torture, cruel and inhuman treatment continue to be practiced on a wide scale, and the concerns of the Forum expressed in earlier reports seem to have little effect upon the Government and the police. The formal impunity contained in the Clemency Order of 6th October 2000 seems to be bolstered by pragmatic impunity based on a lack of concern, inertia by the police, and even condonation by the highest authorities in the land.
  3. We note once again that all available evidence indicates that the political violence has been preponderantly perpetrated by supporters of the Government, with the Central Intelligence Organisation, the “war veterans” and ordinary government supporters all being implicated.
  4. The involvement of the CIO in acts of torture and ill-treatment on ordinary citizens is at variance with the organization’s mandate to ensure the security of the State. The evidence from the recent cases seen by the Forum suggest rather that the CIO is being used to support a political party.
  5. The Zimbabwe Republic Police continue to display indifference to the plight of victims, both in assisting the victims during violence and in following up on charges pressed by the victims. This indifference must be strongly condemned by all.

We repeat our earlier calls for a strong and public expression by the Government of its commitment to the rule of law as contained in the Constitution. We also repeat our calls for immediate investigations and prosecutions of all persons, irrespective of rank or political party affiliation. We continue to condemn the Clemency Order of 6th January 2000 as inimical to the rule of law, and maintain our demand for the setting up of an independent judicial commission to investigate both pre and post-election violence.


Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.