Mukoko commends govt plan to ban torture

Zimbabwe Peace Project directorJestina Mukoko has commended government for finally swallowing its pride and initiating steps to ratify the United Nations convention against torture.

Jestina Mukoko: Good policies but poor implementation.
Jestina Mukoko: Good policies but poor implementation.

Mukoko was responding to statements by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa who told Parliament last week he had recommended to cabinet that the country ratifies the human rights based treaty.

Chinamasa said the country would soon specify torture as a separate crime on its own that would see offenders being charged and possibly incarcerated.

“As civil society, it’s something that we have been lobbying for over a long time and when he begins to speak about it, it means that the message has been heard,” Mukoko said in an interview.

Mukoko, herself a victim of severe torture in the hands of state agents in 2008, was quick to add that the government should not relegate the noble move to just a mere signature.

The ZPP boss said government should go on to guarantee the full respect of the rights of prisoners especially political prisoners who have borne the brunt of worst forms of torture in the hands of the Mugabe regime.

“It remains a totally different whether if eventually ratified, issues around torture would be handled in a different way,” Mukoko said. “As a country, we have very good policies. Where we have a big problem is in their implementation. It will remain with us as ZPP and as civil society to lobby more so that those who are supposed to implement this would ensure that citizens are treated with dignity and respect.”

The convention was adopted and opened for signatures, ratification and accession by the UN General Assembly Resolution 39/46 of December 1984.

It came into force in June 1987.Since then, Zimbabwe has been dilly dallying on issues of its domestication. The country has a poor human rights record where pro-Mugabe security officials are always being accused of torturing prisoners in a bid to extract information from them.

Mugabe’s government has consistently resisted calls for it to combat torture within its security forces.

In 2009 the UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, was deported on arrival at Harare Airport having entered the country at the invitation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

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