This is how we live - something has to happen to stop this nightmare
[9th December 2008]
Please note that the police have turned down ZimRights' notification of "Return Jestina Mukoko Now March" which was supposed to take place on Friday the 12th of December 2008
Please distribute this appeal widely
Would anyone who has any information on the whereabouts of Jestina Mukoko, Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, who was abducted from her home on Wednesday 3rd December, phone hotline number 0912 471 671 or text a message to 0912 452 201
Her children, her mother, her brothers and sisters, her friends and work colleagues are desperate to find her
Because Jestina is well known, both in her previous role in the media and later for her work in organisations working on peace and conflict resolution, and is an active member of civil society networks, her disappearance has attracted wide-spread attention – and anger that someone who is a member of an organisation working for peace in Zimbabwe should be among the “disappeared”.
But she is not the first – there have been others who have also been forcibly abducted and whose whereabouts are still unknown. Our concern and outrage is for all who have suffered this fate. The “forced disappearance” of every single man, woman or child – and more names are listed below – is an atrocity and a violation of all that makes us human, and is a blot against our country Zimbabwe.
The number of the “disappeared” is on the increase and is an alarming development. We are all aware of the sufferings the people of this country are going through – the terrible toll that poverty, starvation, HIV/AIDS, other diseases and now cholera are exacting. And we are aware of the many victims of political violence, those who have been killed, tortured, maimed or had their livelihoods destroyed. For families, friends and colleagues of the disappeared there is an additional agony. The waiting, the uncertainly, the not knowing, the swinging from hope to fearing the worst.
A forced disappearance consists of a kidnapping, carried out by agents of the State or organized groups of private individuals who act with State support or tolerance, in which the victim "disappears". Authorities neither accept responsibility for the deed, nor account for the whereabouts of the victim. Petitions of habeas corpus [produce the person and justify the detention] or other legal mechanisms designated to safeguard the liberty and integrity of citizens are ineffective, and the kidnappers remain anonymous. The objective of forced disappearance is not simply the victim's capture and subsequent maltreatment, which often occurs in the absence of legal guarantees. Because of the anonymity of the captors, and subsequent impunity, it also creates a state of uncertainty and terror both in the family of the victim and in society as a whole. Uncertainty exists because people do not know what to do or where to turn. From the first moment, relatives have doubts about the victim's actual fate and the outcome of the search for their loved one. The fear caused by the unknown fate of the victim, and the realization that anyone can be subjected to a forced disappearance, and any motive may be used to justify the disappearance, means that forced disappearance often tends to paralyze not only the family but also opposition and human rights activities.
A forced disappearance violates a series of fundamental human rights, including: the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to legal defence, and the right not to be subjected to torture. In addition, forced disappearance constitutes a grave threat to the right to life.
Forced disappearance is not simply a problem of the victims and their relatives, but rather a problem for all humanity. All human rights organizations, solidarity groups, unions, political parties and churches are urged to publicize this problem and this struggle, and to join forces to eradicate this crime.
Civil society must support the families and lawyers in their demand for thorough investigations, to rescue alive those who are disappeared, and to bring the perpetrators to justice – not for revenge, but in the name of justice itself and for the dignity of a civilized society. Societies cannot be constructed on a foundation of false reconciliation, inadequate justice, presidential pardons, and forgetting injustices done. Ignoring justice is the surest way to encourage injustice.
[Based on FEDEFAM definitions]
Forced Disappearance as a Tool of Political Repression
Forced disappearance has been a tool of other regimes. It was first used as a tool of political oppression by dictatorships in Latin America in the 1960s. [Although during World War II the Nazis used abductions as a form of repression, the detention of the victim was admitted]. The practice of forced disappearance was systemised and used extensively in Latin America in the 1970s, particularly in Argentina. The technique was later refined and applied in other parts of the world, including Africa and Asia and the Middle East.
UN Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance
Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to human dignity. It is condemned as a denial of the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and as a grave and flagrant violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed and developed in international instruments in this field.
Any act of enforced disappearance places the persons subjected thereto outside the protection of the law and inflicts severe suffering on them and their families. It constitutes a violation of the rules of international law guaranteeing, inter alia, the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to liberty and security of the person and the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It also violates or constitutes a grave threat to the right to life.
No State shall practise, permit or tolerate enforced disappearances.
States shall act at the national and regional levels and in cooperation with the United Nations to contribute by all means to the prevention and eradication of enforced disappearance.
Each State shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent and terminate acts of enforced disappearance in any territory under its jurisdiction.
The right to a prompt and effective judicial remedy as a means of determining the whereabouts or state of health of persons deprived of their liberty, and/or identifying the authority ordering or carrying out the deprivation of liberty, is required to prevent enforced disappearances under all circumstances…
In such proceedings, competent national authorities shall have access to all places where persons deprived of their liberty are being held and to each part of those places, as well as to any place in which there are grounds to believe that such persons may be found.
UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances
The UN Human Rights Commissioner’s Office has an active working group on enforced disappearances. Zimbabwean cases have been reported to it, but it takes some time to investigate the cases and report on them.
Details of Jestina’s Abduction
At 5 am in the morning a group, estimated at between 15 and 20 men and one woman, arrived outside Jestina’s Norton home. Two of the vehicles, one reported as looking like a silver-grey Mazda 626 sedan, drove into the driveway and about five men, some of whom were armed, went into the house and dragged Jestina out [in front of her young son] and forced her into a car. She was still in her night clothes and her abductors refused to let her get dressed, or even get her shoes and spectacles. Nor did they allow anyone to fetch her medication which she needs to take three times a day. As this was happening her son managed to make a whispered call to her brother who lives nearby. Some of the family and neighbours gathered, but were unable to do anything but bear witness to the approximate number of abductors and that none of the vehicles seemed to have number plates. Her brother immediately reported what had happened to the police. The family’s lawyers have been unable to locate Jestina and the court took 6 days to hear an urgent application for the police to produce or locate her. Jestina is the breadwinner in her family, as her husband died some years back. She is mother and father to a teenage son and her six year old nephew. After a career as a radio and TV broadcaster, she started working for peace, first as a programme officer setting up community peace committees all round the country, and then as Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, an organisation set up by churches and the Liberators Platform [war veterans working for peace].
Two Other ZPP Officers Abducted
Yesterday two more officers from Zimbabwe Peace Project were abducted from the ZPP headquarters in Harare – Broderick Takawira, Provincial Coordinator of ZPP for Harare Province, and Pascal Gonzo, a ZPP Field Officer. The office guard heard a hoot and as he was investigating who was arriving, 5 men forced an entry and took Broderick and Pascal. The guard reported he saw two cars – one of which he thought might be a Mazda, again no number plate. Their families and lawyers have not been able to find out anything about the two men’s whereabouts. This latest abduction makes it look like a deliberate targeting of an organisation working for peace.
Other Recent “Disappearances”
The first 15 people listed below have been missing for over six weeks. The last two were more recent. All were either candidates in the March Parliamentary or Local Government Elections, or members of a political party carrying out routine party business. There is no known reason for their disappearances other than political party allegiance.
Concillia Chinanzvavana, a parliamentary candidate in the March 29 elections
Her husband, Emmanuel Chinanzvana, who is a local authority councillor
Fidelis Chiramba, a senatorial candidate in the March 29 elections
Ernest Mudimu, a parliamentary candidate in the March 29 elections
Fanwell Tembo, party youth organiser
Terry Musona, party deputy provincial secretary
Collen Mutemagawo, party youth chairperson, his wife Violet Mupfuranhehwe and their two year old child
Lloyd Tarumbwa, party member
Pieat Kaseke, party member
Gwenzi Kahiya, party member
Tawanda Bvumo, party member
Agrippa Kakonda, party member
Larry Gaka, party member
Chris Dlamini party employee
A person known as Baba vaSarudzayi, party member
If anyone knows anything about the whereabouts of any of these persons please phone any of these numbers 011 619 749 or 011 635 755 or 011 635 448 or 011 619 746/7/8 so that their families can be informed.
Gandhi Mudzingwa, a former personal assistant to the Prime Minster designate, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, was abducted on Monday while talking to a relative in a Harare suburb. Eyewitnesses at the scene of the incident said he was accosted by nine gunmen in six vehicles, and was shoved into one of vehicles, a Mazda 626, which drove off towards the city centre.
Document on Offer
Full text of UN Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.
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