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    Tuesday, 19 May 2020

    ZHRC statement on the abduction, torture of MDC-A officials

                                         ZHRC chairman, Dr Elasto Mugwadi.
    1. Section 243 (1) (d), (e) and (f) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides
    that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has the mandate to receive and
    investigate complaints of violation of human rights and administrative justice
    from the public. The Commission also has the power to conduct investigations
    on alleged violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, at its own
    2. Through its own initiative, the ZHRC commenced investigations on the
    alleged abduction and torture of three female MDC Alliance members who went
    missing on 13 May 2020 and were later found in Bindura on Friday, 15 May
    2020. On Saturday, the 16th May 2020, the ZHRC interviewed a representative
    of the MDC-Alliance, the party to which the abductees are affiliated and also
    made a fact-finding hospital visit at Parktown Hospital in Waterfalls in Harare to
    ascertain the facts of the matter.
    3. Investigations are still underway and the Commission is still to interview
    some key witnesses and informants. Further information will be shared once
    the full scale investigations have been finalised. However, even at this
    preliminary stage the ZHRC is categorical that this violence against women
    runs parallel to the right to peaceful existence as enshrined in Article 10 of the
    Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of
    Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). The Maputo Protocol emphasises that
    every woman has the right to human dignity and is entitled to respect for her
    life, integrity and security of person. It also calls for punishment of the
    perpetrators of violence against women.
    4. In line with provisions in the Maputo Protocol, Section 51 of the Constitution
    of Zimbabwe provides that every person, including women have the right to
    dignity. The survivors’ right to personal security is also at stake and in addition,
    Section 52 of the Constitution provides for freedom from all forms of violence
    from public or private sources.
    5. Preliminary investigations have not yet ascertained the identities of the
    alleged abductors but the Commission condemns in the strongest terms such
    heinous acts of enforced disappearances, torture or cruel, inhuman or
    degrading treatment or punishment as well as all other forms of violence against
    women, which are prohibited by Section 53 of the Constitution.
    6. From the preliminary investigation, the Commission noted that the enforced
    disappearance of the three MDC-A officials removed them from the protection
    of the law. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from
    Enforced Disappearance clearly states that no one shall be subjected to
    enforced disappearance nor should they be held in secret detention.
    7. The Commission condemns the abduction as a grave violation of the right
    to personal liberty of the victims, being arbitrary and without just cause which
    our Constitution guarantees in Section 49. The officials were detained at an
    unknown place from Wednesday, 13 May 2020 evening until the early hours of
    Friday, 15 May 2020 against their will. They were denied the right to contact
    their families to inform them of where they were and the liberty to move or leave.
    8. Section 51 of the Constitution also provides that every person has
    inherent dignity in their private and public life and the right to have that dignity
    respected and protected. The conditions the victims were subjected to and the
    way they were treated greatly impaired their dignity. The ZHRC, therefore found
    that the three (3) MDC officials were indeed abducted, tortured and had their
    dignity impaired thereby violating various of their constitutional rights.
    9. The ZHRC noted that in spite of the fact that the three (3) MDC-A officials
    with other party officials had staged a demonstration in violation of lock down
    regulations pertaining to demonstrations, they were still entitled to their human
    dignity and other rights which are interdependent and indivisible. Accused
    persons are still entitled to their rights and Section 50 of the Constitution
    provides for the rights of arrested and detained persons.
    10. Recommendations
    Zimbabwe Republic Police
    10.1The Zimbabwe Republic Police should investigate the allegations of
    abduction and torture by the survivors and bring the perpetrators to book,
    as a matter of urgency.
    10.2The Zimbabwe Republic Police is encouraged to be more proactive in its
    investigation of criminal offences especially in instances where criminal
    offences are alleged to be taking place, even by social media sources.
    Spontaneous action could have reduced the time the victims were in the
    custody of the perpetrators and would have provided them with some leads
    to the case.
    10.3 The Zimbabwe Republic Police should respect and uphold human
    rights of arrested and accused persons by not assaulting and torturing
    suspects or exposing them to such acts of violence.
    Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-A)
    10.4 There is need for the MDC-A structures, within the Provinces, to ensure
    they are appraised on the laws surrounding public demonstrations
    particularly in this State of Emergency that has been brought about by the
    outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Party officials and members should
    abide by lawful regulations put in place even though they may have a
    genuine cause to put forward to relevant authorities. Where they feel their
    constitutional rights have been infringed, they must adopt lawful means of
    addressing their grievances such as litigation.
    10.5 There is need for the MDC-A to follow up on the case of the abduction
    of their officials until the perpetrators have been brought to book.
    Government of Zimbabwe
    10.6 The Government through the relevant Ministry should consider
    ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other
    Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and honour its
    commitment during the Universal Periodic Review process and at the
    presentation of its Periodic Report at the 65th Session of the African
    Commission of Human and Peoples Rights in Banjul, the Gambia.
    10.7 Government must put in place a mechanism to ensure compensation
    for those that have been victims of State Agents and police brutality
    through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.
    Parliament of Zimbabwe
    10.8 Parliament must ensure that Section 210 of the Constitution is
    implemented by enacting a law for an effective and independent mechanism
    for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about
    misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying
    any harm caused by such misconduct.
    Citizens of Zimbabwe
    10.9 The ZHRC also urges all citizens of Zimbabwe to exercise their rights
    such as right to petition and protest, freedoms of association and assembly in
    conformity with the law.
    The ZHRC therefore calls upon all those with information which can assist in
    the investigation of this matter to contact the Commission through the following
    contact details:
    Hotline: 0771 838 656 or 0786 602 035
    Harare Office
    144 Samora Machel Avenue, Harare
    P. Bag. 7759 Causeway, Harare
    Telephone: +263 242 703596/ 703616/701811
    Bulawayo Office
    49 J.M. Nkomo Street (Between 3rd and 4th Avenue, Bulawayo)
    Telephone: 292 64170-73
    Email: info@zhrc.org.zw
    Website: www.zhrc.org.zw
    Facebook Page: @zhrc.zw
    Twitter: @zhrc365

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