CL/175/11(a)-R.2- 37 -
Geneva, 1st October 2004
5.While there is therefore no evidence to indicate that MDC leaders and members resort to greater violence than those of ZANU-PF, the crime register clearly demonstrates that the police were much more likely to arrest MDC supporters: whereas for the three periods referred to in the crime register a significantly lower number of the cases of violence are attributed to the MDC (417 MDC cases compared to 784 ZANU-PF cases), the police arrested the same number of MDC supporters and leaders as ZANU-PF ones, namely 645. The delegation finds this all the more disturbing when considering that, as regards the MPs concerned, the legal foundation of such arrests seems to be lacking, as suggested by the high number of cases which are dropped. In the 38 cases against the MPs concerned as referred to in the police memorandum of 8 March 2004, only four sentences/fines were given15. It is therefore difficult not to interpret this as special treatment by the police of MDC leaders and supporters whom they seem to consider as potential criminals.
6.In the view of the delegation, this attitude is particularly dangerous given the sweeping powers granted to the police under the POSA. As the many cases of withdrawal of charges against the MPs concerned either before plea or for lack of evidence demonstrate, the police – be it on instruction or be it due to an overzealous attitude as suggested by the Government Chief Whip - tend to arrest MDC MPs in circumstances in which it is difficult to identify the grounds for the arrest and even the basis for reasonable suspicion justifying arrest. Moreover, the delegation notes that the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Commissioner of Police both affirmed that under the POSA meetings need only be notified and require no permission, the police being entitled to take certain measures for technical reasons only. The delegation therefore notes with concern that police treatment of notifications amounts in practice to authorising or prohibiting meetings, for which they can even set conditions as they see fit (for example banning criticism of President Mugabe). In so doing, they not only infringe the legal provisions in force but also the right of the MPs concerned to freedom of assembly and of speech.
7.MDC MPs are therefore at continuous risk of arbitrary arrest and detention, which may last as long as one month, as in the case of Mr. Moses Mzila Ndlovu. If released on remand or on bail, MDC MPs are sometimes subjected to heavy constraints, which are not only financial, but entail, often for long periods, weekly or more frequent travel, sometimes over long distances, to comply with reporting requirements to police. In most of the cases, these constraints are imposed on the basis of ill-founded charges. MDC MPs are also continuously subject to arbitrary prohibition of meetings, including “report back” meetings with their electors. This not only violates their individual rights and liberties but greatly hampers, and sometimes wholly prevents them from discharging the mandate entrusted to them by their electors, and deprives their electors of their right to be represented. The situation thus created could deter electors from voting for the MDC as the Party’s MPs would appear to be unable to properly represent the interests of their constituents.
8.The delegation is appalled at the high number of beatings, other ill-treatment and torture reportedly inflicted on the MPs concerned by State agents, be it the police or other law enforcing agents. The Acting Attorney General noted that such illegal practices are increasingly denounced in court. The delegation considers that the authorities are under a pressing duty to investigate any such denunciations, especially when supported by medical evidence, to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The delegation notes that nobody denies that more than one year ago, Mr. Sikhala was tortured in detention. The delegation finds it extremely disturbing that the investigations, which the authorities said had been instituted, have yielded no result to date. A highly professional police corps such as the Z.R.P. might have been expected to make every effort to identify and bring to justice as a matter of urgency the officers responsible for such crimes. The delegation acknowledges that in some cases of assaults against the MPs concerned, investigations were instituted and the culprits brought to justice.
9.The delegation is concerned at the many reported instances in which the necessary medical care was not given to detainees. As to Mr. Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, it can only note that he has lost the sight of one eye as a consequence of his detention in Khami prison.
15 Mr. Mutendadzamera was apparently found guilty of kidnapping (the memorandum stated that he benefited from Presidential Clemency in a kidnapping case); Job Sikhala was fined $ 25.000.- or one month in detention with labour for common assault; an appeal is pending; Job Sikhala was fined for a traffic offence and Paul Madzore paid an admission of guilt fine. The delegation wishes to point out that, according to the police memorandum of March 2004, Mr. Mutendadzamera was arrested in the evening of 20 March 2000 on a kidnapping charge. The next day, on 21 April, he kidnapped another person and was apparently again arrested, benefiting later from Presidential Clemency. The delegation is puzzled at the fact that Mr. Mutendadzamera kidnapped somebody on two consecutive days, even though he was arrested after the first kidnapping.