STATEMENT ON THE ABDUCTION AND TORTURE OF MOVEMENT FOR
DEMOCRATIC CHANGE-ALLIANCE (MDC-A) OFFICIALS
18 May 2020
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.
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
ZHRC CONTACT DETAILS
Hotline: 0771 838 656 or 0786 602 035
144 Samora Machel Avenue, Harare
P. Bag. 7759 Causeway, Harare
Telephone: +263 242 703596/ 703616/701811
49 J.M. Nkomo Street (Between 3rd and 4th Avenue, Bulawayo)
Telephone: 292 64170-73
Facebook Page: @zhrc.zw