Horror Zim torture accounts released

HARARE - New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released horrific details of rights defenders and pro-democracy activists being tortured by police and intelligence operatives during the recent anti-government protests.

The gruesome details were presented in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday, where the country’s human rights record came under global scrutiny at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also Justice minister, presented the country’s official report at the same meeting, which was roundly condemned by civic groups who described it as a sham and at odds with their findings.

The HRW detailed how police and members of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) tortured protesters during recent demonstrations against the introduction of bond notes, as well as protests by the opposition for electoral reforms.

“During 2016, the government of President Robert Mugabe intensified repression against thousands of people who peacefully protested human rights violations and the deteriorating economic situation.

“Those who criticise ...Mugabe or his government, including human rights defenders, civil society activists, government opponents and street vendors face harassment, threats or arbitrary arrest by the police and State security agents. The government has failed to ensure justice and accountability for serious past abuses.

“Acts of torture that Human Rights Watch has documented include severe beatings that involve victims being punched, kicked and struck with batonws; beatings on the soles of the feet; repeated banging of detainees’ heads against walls; and the shackling of detainees in painful positions,” Human Rights Watch notes in the UPR submission.

“Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees by police and members of Zimbabwe’s intelligence services remain a serious and systemic human rights problem in Zimbabwe, despite accepting to ‘ratify the Convention Against Torture (CAT),” the HRW said further.

In July, August and September this year, fed up ordinary citizens demonstrated against Mugabe and his government over what they claim was lack of resolve to fix the country’s dying economy and the worsening local rot.

At the time, the Daily News witnessed heavily-armed riot police descending on hapless protesters and leaving scores hospitalised, as Mugabe’s panicking government cranked up its savage assault on dissenting voices in the country.

Mugabe and Zanu PF, in power for 36 uninterrupted years, are facing their biggest challenge to their rule, which ordinary Zimbabweans say has been disastrous.

Last week, Counselling Services Unit (CSU) also reported a sharp increase in violence in the country in 2016, with record levels of assault, abduction and torture dominating its findings.

About 654 cases of political violence were recorded by the local non-governmental organisation as of October 21, compared to 476 cases in the whole of 2015.

The CSU found that assaults were overwhelmingly perpetrated by the State’s security forces — including police, military and the secretive CIO — while opposition supporters and civil society activists had been on the receiving end of the increasingly violent treatment.

One activist interviewed, Gift Siziba, a student protest leader at the University of Zimbabwe, said he was abducted by State security agents in August and taken to Zanu PF headquarters in Harare where he was hung from the ceiling by his feet.

“It is at this time that I experienced brutal, callous and inhumane treatment,” he said.

“I was tortured and assaulted with my feet hanging upwards and my head downwards as 21 youths and men exchanged chances to beat me until I passed out.”

Siziba said his interrogators demanded information about other human rights defenders, and claims at one point he was dangled over a large drum of sulphuric acid.

Siziba was then transferred to the Harare Central Police Station, where the beatings continued.

“At this instant I had lost a lot of blood and I was still bleeding. I was injured in almost all parts of my body. I was denied water, and the right to call my parents, a lawyer, or anyone. I received no treatment and had to become my own doctor,” he said.

Comments (4)

Thieves only have to cling to power by brutal means. Robert is a murderer since time but he will answering that to God himself soon.

Bonganilishe - 4 November 2016

Thieves only have to cling to power by brutal means. Robert is a murderer since time but he will answering that to God himself soon.

Bonganilishe - 4 November 2016

Based on the evidence presented in Switzerland and the findings of the Court, human rights groups, the Churches and opposition parties need to use this as a basis or foundation of their demand for UN intervention right now. We just cannot and must not allow another election process with ZANU PF in control because as we all know the results will be the same as before and most of our crooked SADC partners will endorse the results even though they know that the process was rigged and massive intimidation had taken place.

Mbewa - 4 November 2016

Mwari inzwai kuchema kunoita vana venyu! Toparadzwa nevana va Satan

Jonso - 4 November 2016

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