By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
17 July 2014
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF government will never sign the UN Convention on Torture because the practice has kept them in power since independence, a torture victim said on Thursday.
This comes at a time when foreign diplomats, international organisations and local civil society groups are urging the government to sign the convention on Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Zimbabwe has refused to join the ranks of 147 nations who have signed-up to the United Nations Convention against Torture. Of these 147 nations, 47 out of 53 are from the African continent. Nearer home, 12 are from the SADC regional bloc. Only Angola, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are the three that have not signed.
Sox Chikohwero, former head of intelligence for the MDC, said expecting the government to ratify the convention is as good as expecting career thieves or murderers to hand themselves to the police after committing their crimes.
‘ZANU PF depends on violence to stay in power. It is in their DNA, starting with the Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina and 2008 political violence. They know that being a signatory of the torture convention will put them at loggerheads with the UN if they continue with the practice. It is safe for them not to be part of the convention as they are not answerable to anybody,’ Chikohwero said.
On two occasions in 2002 Chikohwero was tortured by military intelligence, the CIO and police who used electric shocks to his body and genitals. They also used batons to beat the soles of his feet, a method that has left his feet insensitive to touch.
Lawyer and politician Obert Gutu said he was not surprised the government has not signed the treaty because of the obvious repercussions they will face from the International Criminal Court.
‘The ICC will have jurisdiction to all human rights issues and in Zimbabwe the issue of human rights has been topical for the last 15 years. The last thing these perpetrators of violence would want is to be subjects of the ICC,’ Gutu said.
The ICC is a body that can prosecute serious crimes against humanity no matter who committed them and to try people for gross violations of human rights, such as those committed during military conflicts.