Geneva, 1st October 2004
6.1.1.The Attorney General’s Office
The Acting Attorney General stated that the criminal system in Zimbabwe had never been overhauled although the population had grown and more offences were being committed. At present, the State had only 180 prosecutors although there was a need for 250. It was therefore difficult for his Office to take action in the absence of complaints.
6.1.2.The Zimbabwe Republican Police (Z.R.P.)
The Commissioner of Police provided an overview of the organisation of the Zimbabwe Republican Police which comprises four different units, namely the Crime Intervention Unit within which the Law and Order Branch operates, the Crime Intelligence Unit which is in charge of crime analysis, the Support Unit (riot police) and Traffic police. He stated that the Zimbabwe Republican Police was a constitutional body and operated under the terms of the law, applying it irrespective of stature or political affiliation. “Accusing the police of not operating under the law would mean that they operate outside the law and do as they please, and this is untrue”. He insisted that complaints against individual officers in the performance of their duties or other misdemeanours were investigated. Thus, in 2003, 22 officers had been discharged from the Z.R.P. for misconduct while a number were on suspension, pending investigation into various allegations brought against them. In this respect he referred to the internal “Force Orders” document which informs all agents about instances of misdemeanours, discharges etc. within the Z.R.P. He stated that the Z.R.P. respected human life which was sacrosanct. It was the Z.R.P.’s primary purpose to protect lives, followed by property. He asserted that the Z.R.P. had never used torture as a means of securing a conviction or as a method of investigation. In fact the Police Client Charter enjoined every police officer to be firm, fair and professional in the conduct of his duties. The Commissioner informed the delegation that human rights was part of police training in Zimbabwe and he provided the delegation with a copy of the “Zimbabwe Republic Police Human Rights and Policing Resource Book”, published first in 2001 by the Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa with the cooperation of Zimbabwe police officers.
The Commissioner also mentioned that, because of their outstanding professionalism, Z.R.P. officers had been deployed by the United Nations in Somalia, Kosovo and East Timor where they had been training the trainers for about two years.
It should be mentioned, that many of the MPs concerned stated that police officers arresting them or summoning them for interrogation affirmed that they were acting upon instruction and “orders from above”.
6.1.3.The prison system
In his introductory statement the Commissioner of Prisons stated that efforts were being made to modernise the prisons (which were among the most notorious ones under the Smith regime), for example by installing ventilation. There was also a rehabilitation program in place. However, overcrowding posed a major problem. As regards the treatment of prisoners, he said that a person taken to prison was treated as a prisoner, irrespective of any political affiliation or his or her status as MP. There were A, B, C and D category prisoners, A being the ones suspected or found guilty of serious charges, such as murder.
The Commissioner informed the delegation that 28,29% were remand prisoners. The delegation understood that family visits for such prisoners were authorised every day, and visits of relatives once a week for a duration of 15 to 30 minutes. Remand prisoners had unrestricted access to lawyers. As regards food, the rule was that the prisoner had to see the person bringing it.
In response to the concerns raised in some of the cases, namely access to medical treatment, measures of restraint (leg irons), use of prison uniform for remand prisoners, interrogations during the night and solitary confinement in the case of Mr. Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, the Commissioner of Police and the Head of the medical prison service, Dr. Matumbiro, provided the following information (see also II. 1.7.):