THE Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an international organisation of national parliaments, has castigated Zimbabwean institutions for failing to investigate the torture and abuse of Harare West legislator Joana Mamombe, two years after reports were made, The NewsHawks has learnt.
In a report released by the organisation’s Committee on Human Rights on 15 October, the union noted that culprits involved in the abduction and torture of Mamombe and her two colleagues in May 2020 should have been brought to book by now.
“The governing council of Inter-Parliamentary Union is particularly concerned that the complaints to the relevant authorities have reportedly not set in motion investigations to identify the culprits of Ms Mamombe’s alleged abduction and torture; fails to understand why, more than two years after these complaints were sent to the relevant institutions and copied to the Ministry of Justice and the Parliament of Zimbabwe, they have still not yielded any results; recalls in this regard that the Republic of Zimbabwe is bound by the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a party, article 2(3) of which enshrines the duty of the State to ensure that any person whose rights are violated should have an effective remedy determined by competent authorities,” read the report.
The IPU also urged the authorities to thoroughly investigate the reports by Zimbabwe’s youngest lawmaker after the 2018 election.
The organisation urged the government to conduct an in-depth investigation into the alleged violations reported by Mamombe, “including by undertaking a full examination of the CCTV footage of what transpired that day at Harare Central Police Station, questioning the police officers on duty that day, inspecting the site and area where Ms Mamombe was reportedly dumped, which is said to be relatively close to the place where the alleged abuses took place, and by examining the medical and physical reports drawn up at the hospital; and wishes to be kept informed as a matter of urgency of progress made in the investigations.”
After noting the offices to which reports were submitted, the IPU followed the matter up but got no response.
The organisation said: “It regrets, once again, that none of the other authorities that were contacted by the IPU have provided any response that might facilitate the resolution of the specific concerns that have arisen in this case; and expresses the firm hope that a response is given to all questions raised by the Committee in its letters to relevant executive and independent institutions, as was previously assured.”
Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova were arrested at a roadblock after staging a demonstration in Warren Park suburb, but they report that they were never formally charged but were forced into a minibus at Harare Central Police Station until they were dumped near Bindura, Mashonaland Central, after being abused. Instead of the state investigating the abduction, the three were arrested and charged with communicating falsehoods. They are yet to know their verdict on the matter two years later.
“The IPU Is deeply concerned by allegations that Ms Mamombe continues to face judicial harassment in relation to three cases against her; is concerned by allegations made by the complainants that Ms Mamombe is facing numerous issues of maladministration of justice amounting to a denial of a fair trial, including the lack of judicial independence, the discriminatory application of the law and the dismissal of evidence of the trauma endured by Ms. Mamombe on 13 May 2020; considers that, while mindful of the constitutional arrangements in place in Zimbabwe regarding the separation of powers and the principle of sub judice, that Parliament can look into allegations that impact the overall administration of justice by virtue of its oversight function, as reflected in Article 119 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe; and looks forward to hearing from the parliamentary authorities on this point.”
The IPU was also dismayed by the treatment that Mamombe received when she returned to Parliament after months of detention at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
“(The union) is dismayed by the allegation that Ms Mamombe was subject to heckling, insults and stigmatisation by members of the ruling party when she returned to Parliament in November 2020 after a period of convalescence due to the trauma she had endured, forcing her to leave the parliamentary chamber as she no longer felt safe; deplores that Ms Mamombe therefore felt obliged to attend parliamentary sessions remotely.” In the same report the IPU expressed concern over the pre-trial detention of Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala who has been incarcerated since mid-June.
“(The Union) is deeply concerned that Mr Sikhala has been held in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison on remand since his arrest on 14 June 2022; his applications for bail having been denied on four occasions; fails to understand how his detention in a maximum security prison could possibly be justified; is alarmed by allegations that Mr Sikhala is being held in inhumane conditions; with reports that he is shackled with leg irons at all times and forced to sleep on the bare floor; fails to see the legal basis for his prolonged incarceration and the excessive delays in his trial, which is scheduled to begin four months from his initial arrest; is particularly concerned by these different allegations, bearing in mind the findings of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, in an earlier case, that he had been subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention and torture,” it said.
Sikhala has been in detention for over four months and has applied for bail in the two charges that he is facing eight times.