Zimbabwe

Zim dismisses torture claims as 'lies'

2012-05-21 14:07

Harare - Zimbabwe's justice minister said on Monday that reports of torture and violence against political activists were "lies", during a visit by UN rights chief Navi Pillay.

"There is no state-sponsored violence, these are all lies. We told her that there are no torture chambers in Zimbabwe," Patrick Chinamasa said after an hour-long meeting with the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights.

A South African court on 08 May ordered prosecutors in Pretoria to probe Zimbabwean officials accused of torturing opposition supporters five years ago, citing South Africa's obligations to the International Criminal Court.

The landmark judgment meant that the authorities can investigate and prosecute high-level crimes committed not only in neighbouring Zimbabwe but anywhere else in the world.

"We need to investigate some of these [torture] reports so that we find out if the person was involved in a personal accident, as they can claim that they are torture wounds," Chinamasa said.

"All that has been written [does] not contain details of who was tortured, where were they tortured. We just see reports in the media. We want to know where did it happen, so that police can investigate."

Pillay said she would only comment on her talks at the end of her trip Friday.

Chinamasa said his meeting with Pillay was cordial, but reiterated Zimbabwe's insistence on outlawing "homosexual activities".

Pillay, who is on a five-day visit to Zimbabwe, is expected to meet President Robert Mugabe later in the week.

The 88-year-old president has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980 but following deadly violence around failed elections in 2008, he was forced into a power-sharing government with rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who is now prime minister.

Despite the unity government, rights activists are frequently arrested or harassed in the course of their work.

Pillay's visit comes after an invitation from Harare.

- AFP

Read more on:    un  |  robert mugabe  |  patrick chinamasa  |  navi pillay  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  zimbabwe  |  sa  |  southern africa
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