ZLHR Statement on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

On International Day In Support of Victims of Torture, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) encourages the public to rally behind victims of torture locally and worldwide and demand that authorities prosecute all perpetrators in order to eradicate the abhorrent practice of torture.

In addition, ZLHR calls upon the authorities to prioritise the establishment of specialised rehabilitation programmes to assist victims and survivors of torture.

International Day In Support of Victims of Torture is observed every year on 26 June. It is an opportunity for United Nations (UN) Member States, civil society and individuals to unite in support of victims of torture across the globe.

International Day In Support of Victims of Torture was established by a proclamation of the UN General Assembly on 12 December 1997. Its establishment was meant to demonstrate a global commitment towards the total eradication of torture and reiterate the aspirations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Torture is considered to be a crime under international law. It can be defined as the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering on another human being by or with the consent of a public official or a person acting in an official capacity for reasons which include intimidation, coercion, the extraction of information or the infliction of a punishment. Torture is particularly detestable as it violates the inherent dignity of a person and their right to bodily integrity. In addition, the impact of torture extends beyond the direct victim of the act because it can have adverse psychological effects on the family of the victim. Unresolved trauma can sometimes lead to a cycle of violence which is transmitted to future generations. Torture continues to be a scourge across the globe despite the absolute prohibition of torture under international law treaties such as the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In Zimbabwe, there continues to be a distressing trend of torture by suspected state agents. Human rights defenders and some suspects of crime have been victims. This practice of torture persists despite the entrenchment of a right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The incidents of torture are seldom investigated by the authorities and the perpetrators of these vile acts are not held accountable for their actions. The failure to prosecute these perpetrators is detestable. It is also a flagrant disregard of binding international law and an affront to the victims of torture. Authorities should therefore prosecute all perpetrators of torture.

On this International Day In Support of Victims of Torture, ZLHR calls upon:

  • The public to join the rest of the world in supporting victims of torture;
  • The public to demand that authorities prosecute perpetrators of torture in order to bring the abhorrent practice to an end;
  • The authorities to prioritise the establishment of specialised rehabilitation programmes that are meant to assist victims of torture in the process of healing from the horrors of torture.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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