• Campaigns

Zimbabwe: Further information on fear of torture / prisoner of conscience

, Index number: AFR 46/005/1999

Clive Wilson, managing editor of the Standard newspaper, was discharged from detention on 25 January 1999. Journalists Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto who were arrested and later released remain at liberty.

PUBLIC
AI Index: AFR 46/05/99
25 January 1999
Further information on EXTRA 07/99 (AFR 46/03/99,22 January 1999) - Fear of
torture/prisoner of conscience
ZIMBABWEClive Wilson, newspaper managing director, aged 62
Mark Chavunduka, journalist
Ray Choto, journalist
Clive Wilson, managing director of The Standard newspaper, was discharged from
police detention at midday on Monday 25 January 1999. The Attorney General
Patrick Chinamasa said that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him
under the Law and Order Maintenance Act for publishing or causing to be published
information ‘creating alarm and despondency’.
Wilson’s lawyer indicated that police were not dropping the investigation
against his client and would continue to seek sufficient evidence to arrest
him once more. Wilson, who spent three nights in detention, did not appear
to have been ill-treated while held in civilian police custody.
Ray Choto and Mark Chavunduka remain at liberty, though they have kept their
whereabouts hidden to avoid any further arbitrary detention by police.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
On 12 January Standard editor Mark Chavunduka was illegally arrested by
Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) military police, in connection with a story printed
in The Standard on 10 January 1999 that alleged a plot within the ZNA to
overthrow the government of Robert Mugabe had been foiled, and that 23 soldiers
and officers had been arrested. He was detained incommunicado for six days
at Cranborne military barracks in Harare, in defiance of a 14 January High
Court judgment ordering Minister of Defence Moven Mahachi and Major Mhonda
of the ZNA to release him.
Ray Choto turned himself over to the civilian police on 19 January, after they
had sought to arrest him in connection with the story. Amnesty International
considered the two men prisoners of conscience.
Both men were taken to Harare police headquarters on 19 January to give
statements to civilian police. They were then handed over to military police
and tortured for approximately 24 hours at a torture centre outside the capital,
Harare. The torture included beatings with fists, wooden planks and rubber
batons, the use of electric shocks to the body and genitals, and having their
heads wrapped in plastic bags and then being submerged in water tanks. The
torturers threatened to kill the men and their families.
Mark Chavunduka and Roy Choto were later released on bail on 21 January.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send faxes/express/airmail letters in English or
your own language:
- noting that on 25 January 1999 Clive Wilson was released without charge from
police custody;
- seeking assurances that Clive Wilson, Mark Chavunduka, and Ray Choto will
not be subjected to arbitrary arrest or threat of arrest solely on account
of their legitimate activities as independent journalists;
2
- urging that an immediate, independent inquiry be launched into the unlawful
detention and torture of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto, and into the allegations
that their captors threatened to kill the men and had threatened their families,
and that any officials found to have condoned or taken part in such torture
be held accountable for their actions.
APPEALS TO:
President Robert Mugabe
Office of the President
Private Bag 7700
Causeway
Harare
Zimbabwe
Faxes: + 263 4 728 799 or 728799
Salutation: Dear President
Minister of Defence Moven Mahachi
Ministry of Defence
PO Box 7713
Causeway
Harare
Zimbabwe
Faxes: + 263 4 731 313
+ 263 4 796 762
Salutation: Dear Minister
Minister of Home Affairs Dumiso Dabengwa
Ministry of Home Affairs
Private Bag 505D
Harare
Zimbabwe
Faxes: + 263 470 3641, 792 774
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
The Standard/The Independent
PO Box 661730
Kapje, Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimrights
PO Box 3951,
Harare, Zimbabwe
and to diplomatic representatives of Zimbabwe accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 8 March 1999.

Choose a language to view report