Landmark compensation case against torture in Zimbabwe

Landmark compensation case against torture in Zimbabwe

Jestina Mukoko

HARARE, (CAJ News) THE compensation of US$150 000 (over R2,2 million) won by a Zimbabwean human rights activist kidnapped by state agents has been hailed as encouragement to victims pursuing justice against violations by the regime of former president, Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe’s High Court ordered the state to pay pro-democracy campaigner, Jestina Mukoko, who was kidnapped in 2008 and spent three weeks held incommunicado and tortured.

She was abducted on allegations of plotting to topple Mugabe’s administration through recruiting people to undergo military training in Botswana.

In 2009, the Supreme Court halted the trial after it emerged Mukoko and colleagues were tortured by simulated drowning and locked in a freezer to force her to confess charges by state agents.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project, of which Mukoko is a director, and Lawyers for Human Rights welcomed the court settlement as a case of triumph over impunity.

“This outcome will not make up for the scars inflicted on her (Mukoko) but will contribute to the healing process while emboldening all those who may still be pursuing justice against the excesses of the state,” the organisations stated.

Mukoko said the court’s decision set a landmark precedent and showed state actors could be held accountable for illegal conduct.

“It also sends a message to overzealous enforcers of illegal orders to violate a plethora of my rights that they will be held responsible for their actions and this can even be in their personal capacity,” she said.

Mukoko and the rights groups pledged to continue champion liberties in the post-Mugabe era.

– CAJ News




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