The Many Faces of Corruption: Linking Corruption to Organised Violence and Torture


This report builds on groundbreaking work by the United Nations documenting the link between corruption and torture, particularly how corruption in places of detention has severely violated the freedom from torture and ill-treatment of inmates in places of detention. The present report extends the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’s report by exploring not only the relationship between corruption and torture but also includes organised violence, by exploring their linkages in the everyday encounter between authority (focusing mainly on the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and individuals through a number of different risk groups – domestic helpers, security guards, unemployed youths, sex workers and informal economy workers– each with troubled and hence exploitable relationships with the state security apparatus.

There are however two challenges that immediately present themselves when exploring these encounters and such linkages. The first challenge is that organised violence and torture (OVT) and corruption are inherently difficult to study empirically. They exist in the real of uncertainties where, in different ways, they incarnate abstract forms of the horrible and the bad. Secondly, both corruption and torture are legal categories grounded respectively in the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (UNCAT). However, although they are factual and legal categories, their abstract and illusory nature – as well as the controversy and conflict they are embroiled in – make them less effective as analytical categories. This does not mean that one cannot conduct a forensic analysis of corruption or explore the legal implications of OVT. Rather, we suggest a complimentary analysis of how practices that might be associated with OVT and corruption are linked empirically. This involves a move from legal notions to social practices.

To that end, this report consists of several case studies that focus on different aspects of the linkages between corruption and OVT. The ultimate aim is to explore, through empirical triangulations, the interrelatedness of corruption and OVT from different angles in what we shall call a “cross-sectoral comparison”. The ZRP, established in the colonial era, has a long history of engaging in unprofessional, corrupt, and criminal conduct. Over the years, the ZRP has proved difficult to effectively manage and control and has become largely unaccountable to the citizens it is meant to serve. Although there are still many Zimbabwean police officers conducting themselves in an exemplary manner, working in difficult and often dangerous conditions but for many Zimbabweans, the ZRP has utterly failed to fulfil its mandate of providing public security.

The case studies in chapter 3 of this report inspect how various groups relations with the ZRP through specific encounters across different economic groups. Interviews were conducted at the consent of the interviewees with the explanation and understanding that the information provided would be used in this report. All victims participated on the basis that they would remain anonymous. As a result, where certain officials could easily be identified by the mention of their station, position, or rank, some of this information has been omitted. The objective is to give the human face to corruption.

Download the full report here (1.5MB PDF)

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

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