Cops continue to torture citizens

As the Zimbabwe Republic Police continues with the use of torture, human rights lawyers have told Parliament of the need to ensure that the police become aware of constitutional provisions regarding the rights of accused persons.

The police have in recent months admitted to torturing accused persons, resulting in the payment of compensation to victims. Just last week, the Civil Division of the Attorney General agreed to settle with Mercedes Sibanda, who was tortured at Harare Central Police Station.

There have been more such cases in areas such as Nyanga, where action by human rights lawyers has forced the authorities to settle torture victims. But Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) says there is need to move towards professionalism in the police force to completely eradicate rights abuses.

“There is need to ensure that the police become increasingly aware of the new constitutional provisions concerning the rights of accused persons. The police have over the years perpetrated violations against suspects in some documented cases, with torture, and denial of pretrial rights,” said ZLHR during an appearance before the Senate Thematic Committee on Human Rights last week.

“Many international conventions forbid physical or mental pain or suffering on those within their custody or control. ZLHR as well as other lawyers have continued to bring claims against the police in cases of torture against suspects. Anti­torture laws must be drafted and adopted and enforced,” stated ZLHR.

In 2013, a total of 425 people were arrested, and or detained and later released without charge.

“This wastes state resources and violates the rights of those targeted. There is need for extensive education on the constitution to members of the police,” said ZLHR.

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