Posts Tagged ‘Arnold Tsunga’

Peter Magombeyi, doctor in Zimbabwe, on the growing list of victims

September 18, 2019

 

 

 

 

On 18 September 2019 several outlets (here NewsDay Zimbabwe) reported that the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) has called on the government of Zimbabwe to guarantee the safety and security of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association acting president Peter Magombeyi, who was allegedly abducted by suspected State security agents on Saturday night and to ensure his immediate release.

Magombeyi, who was abducted by three masked men from his Budiriro, Harare home at the weekend, had been leading an industrial job action by junior doctors nationwide over poor salaries and working conditions. “The SAHRDN further calls on authorities to curb the emerging pattern of abductions, enforced disappearances and torture of human rights defenders and legitimate political opponents,” said SAHRDN in a statement. The government has denied that its security agents were involved in the abduction and blamed a third force trying to tarnish the image of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. Before Magombeyi’s abduction, he had reported to his lawyers a variety of threats he was receiving some via his mobile phone.

Since January 2019 when Zimbabweans protested against the worsening economic situation, thousands of people have been arbitrarily arrested and detained and scores of civil society activists, human rights defenders and legitimate political opponents have faced abductions and enforced disappearances. Unfortunately, some of them have died as a result of torture such as Blessing Toronga,” said the organisation chaired by prominent lawyer, Arnold Tsunga. The organisation accused the Zimbabwe Republic Police of failing to enforce the law and to hold those responsible for perpetrating attacks on human rights defenders accountable. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/08/26/zimbabwe-two-years-emmerson-mnangagwa-have-shown-little-difference-from-mugabe/.

———-

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/abduction-human-rights-defender-peter-magombeyi

Pressure piles over missing doctor

https://allafrica.com/stories/201909180043.html

Jestina Mukoko’s 150.000 $ triumph in Zimbabwe: gives hope to all torture victims

October 8, 2018

In a rare case of triumph over impunity, the Zimbabwean High Court, on 27 September 2018, ordered the state to pay $150 000 to Jestina Mungareva Mukoko, a pro-democracy campaigner and Director of Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP). In a Deed of Settlement endorsed by the High Court, the defendants have been ordered to pay $100.000 to Jestina in respect of her claims while a further $50.000 will be paid as a contribution towards her legal costs (before 31 October 2018).

This exceptional decision was welcomed by many NGOs, including the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

My good friend and long-time Zimbabwean human rights defender Arnold Tsunga said the following: “I think it’s a very good resolution of the case. The damages are significant but the case was also quite serious including the torture meted out on Jestina that the damages seem to fit the case. In a way it’s a double benefit in that the abduction and torture resulted in criminal case against her collapsing and on top of that she gets paid. Hopefully the security sector have learnt a lesson. It is also good that the judiciary is getting stronger and confident to pronounce itself this way“. Especially the latter is an important outcome!

ackground Information (Jestina Mukoko Triumph: The Facts):
Jestina was abducted by some unidentified armed men from her home in Norton on 3 December 2008, and her whereabouts together with two ZPP employees Broderick Takawira and Pascal Gonzo, who were also abducted later in December 2008 remained unknown until December 24, 2008, when they first appeared before the Harare Magistrates Court, after weeks of being held incommunicado and being tortured. In court, Jestina and her colleagues and dozens of other pro-democracy campaigners were accused by government of plotting to topple Robert Mugabe’s administration through recruiting people to undergo military training in neighbouring Botswana. After her release from a torturous three months stay in prison, Mukoko with the assistance of her lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, a member of ZLHR, took legal action against the state.

In September 2009, the Supreme Court granted a permanent stay of prosecution in favour of Jestina due to the violation of several of her fundamental rights by state security agents as she had been subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment including simulated drowning, being locked in a freezer and being subjected to physical assaults as her tormentors tried to make her confess to plotting to overthrow the administration of Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe.

In 2017, the High Court ruled that those who had illegally arrested her could be held liable in their own individual capacities and the case culminated in lengthy protracted negotiations that have led to this outcome. During this time, Jestina was called different names such as ‘regime change agent, reactionary and other unprintable words in a bid to delegitimise her legitimate human rights activism. She was portrayed as a criminal, a tag which remains today but this settlement in the court vindicates her and her work in defending human rights.

Jestina Mukoko herself added the following piece on the Significance of my case” (which I reproduce almost in full as it is such a good lessons learnt):

..The patrimonial settlement cannot atone for the trauma and suffering that I suffered and went through at the hands of the state security agents who were ruthless, merciless and very evil. It will not make for lost time as my liberty and all other human rights accorded to me by virtue of my being human was unjustifiably curtailed nor will it provide solace for my traumatised family – my mother, son, brothers, sisters in law, extended family, friends and other peace loving citizens.

However, it is a victory for the rule of law, constitutionalism and a mortal blow to impunity. The High Court’s decision is proof that the justice system is still able to prove the involvement of the state and its representatives in gross human rights violations, and bring them to account, with justice being done for the victims like myself.

It sets a landmark precedent and shows that the state actors can be held accountable for their illegal conduct. It also sends a message to the overzealous enforcers of orders and in this case very illegal orders to violate a plethora of my rights that they will be held responsible for their actions and this can even be in their personal capacity.

I hope my story will inspire many other victims. To some extent, justice has now been done and this case will stand as an example in the continuing fight against impunity for state crimes and excesses.

My resort to litigation and the subsequent victory in court sends a strong signal that state sponsored crimes cannot go unpunished.

It is also an encouragement to human rights defenders that the dangers of their work will not be in vain. I hope this case will embolden younger activists to pursue social justice in the comfort that they can rely on this case to hold the state or anyone accountable who may threaten their liberties. It is also a vindication of the advocacy work done by all human rights activists and those who have invested in promoting and protecting human rights that even though the fruits of this cumbersome and often arduous journey may come late , they eventually come. This is a victory for everyone who has been in the trenches with me and who has walked this risky journey of human rights work.

I hope that this victory will set an example, particularly to the Zimbabwean authorities, who must now prosecute the perpetrators of abductions and enforced disappearances which is a heinous crime.

The High Court’s decision sends a clear signal to the Zimbabwean authorities, who must do everything in their power to guarantee victims access to impartial justice and to put an end to the endemic impunity that is enjoyed by torturers and the perpetrators of serious human rights violations.

This settlement comes at a time when the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence set by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has started its work to establish the facts around the circumstances that led to the death of six people on 1 August 2018 in Harare after members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces opened fire against protesters. It must be established whether the force used by members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was proportionate to the threat posed by unarmed protesters. It must also be established whether in doing so they overstepped their mandate and therefore should be held liable or the state vicariously liable. This case must form the basis for national rejection of all forms of impunity and the same principles must be followed by the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence.

In conclusion, I, Jestina through the Zimbabwe Peace Project, which plays a critical role in documenting human rights abuses, will continue to join hands with other civil society organisations such as ZLHR to champion human rights in the post-Robert Mugabe era without fear or favour. The journey to full implementation of the Constitution and compliance with the supreme law of the land continues.

https://www.zoomzimbabwe.com/2018/10/05/high-court-awards-jestina-mukoko-150000-in-damages-for-state-torture/

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/03/08/zimbabwe-celebrates-by-arresting-2-women-per-day-over-the-last-two-years/

NGO convinces EU to pay particular attention to the situation of HRDs in Zimbabwe

April 11, 2013

Interesting example of how NGO pressure can have effect on the EU: last December, FIDH organised a round of advocacy with its Vice-President and Laureate of the MEA 2006, Arnold Tsunga, to convey to the European Union its concerns around the ongoing risks for human rights defenders in the context of political deadlock and pre-electoral period [“Zimbabwe: Ongoing risks for human rights defenders in the context of political deadlock and pre-electoral period”, report of the Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders published in November 2012.] FIDH’s objective was to gear up the EU’s attention to ensure early warning and appropriate reaction in case of human rights violations taking place in the electoral cycle staring with the upcoming referendum on the new Constitution before the holding of Presidential elections in the summer of this year. FIDH’s advocacy was reflected in the European Parliament’s prompt reaction to the arrest of Okay Machisa, National Executive Director of ZimRights, and two other ZimRights members Leo Chamahwinya, Dorcas Shereni through an urgent resolution adopted on 7 February, which also relays the Observatory report recommendations. In addition, the EU Delegation and Heads of Missions in Harare issued a Statement on 22 February to indicate the EU’s particular concern around the pattern of incidents of harassment against civil society organisations and to call on the authorities to demonstrate impartiality in their relation to civil society. logo FIDH_seul

via Zimbabwe : UE pays particular attention to the situation of … – FIDH.