Why don’t we ban torture?

Zimbabweans across the political divide now acknowledge the ugly role of violence in our society.

Torture – cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment – can claim a role in the creation and maintenance of a toxic environment in which lives have been lost and millions of Zimbabweans have fled the country of their birth.

In order to heal these self-inflicted wounds, we need an environment conducive for non-violence.

About 147 countries in the world are party to the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

Zimbabwe is one of the very few countries in the whole world that have not signed or ratified this.

Article 4 would require the government to ensure “that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal laws.” This will include an attempt to commit torture and an act by “any person which constitutes complicit or participation in torture.”

The issue about the CAT was raised with Zimbabwe Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa last October during the 12th UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review on Zimbabwe. Given the country’s reliability on ratifying UN Conventions, it is surprising that there has been lack of appetite in signing this important human rights pillar.

Ordinary people should pproach their Members of Parliament and demand that the government immediately ratifies the CAT and passes laws that will support it.

I hope the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs will, in anticipation of a new torture free Zimbabwe, arrange courses to educate security forces who manage law and order on how to do so without resorting to torture or inhuman, degrading treatment and punishment.ZUPA, the organisation I work for, which represents the interest of millions of unemployed people, believes that torture is bad for Zimbabwe.

Unemployed Zimbabweans in many areas have shied away from asserting their rights due to fear of torture and inhuman treatment. Many in the Diaspora who could be returning to Zimbabwe to create jobs for ZUPA members have a genuine fear.

A post CAT Zimbabwe would definitely be a challenge to all. I believe that there is a need to engage Zimbabweans at all levels in this debate and raise wareness.

Chinamasa said he was going to look into the CAT ratification, but so far nothing has happened. [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis

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