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Zimbabwe: Fear of torture

, Index number: AFR 46/006/1999

Amnesty International fears that journalists, Grace Kwinjeh and Dr Ibbo Mandaza, who were detained on 8 February 1999, are at risk of torture or ill-treatment in detention.

PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 46/06/99
EXTRA 16/99 Fear of Torture 8 February 1999
ZIMBABWEGrace Kwinjeh ] Journalist
Dr Ibbo Mandaza] Publisher Zimbabwe Mirror Newspaper
Amnesty International fears that the two above-named journalists, who were
detained on 8 February 1999, are at risk of torture or ill-treatment in
detention.
Fears for their safety are heightened after two other journalists recently
arrested by police were transferred into military custody and severely tortured
for 24 hours at a torture centre outside Harare, the capital (see Extra 07/99,
AFR 46/03/99, 22 January 1999).
Grace Kwinjeh, a reporter; Fernando Goncalves, an editor; Ferai Mungazi, a
former editor; and Dr Ibbo Mandaza, the publisher of the independent Zimbabwe
Mirror newspaper, were arrested by the Criminal Investigations Division (CID)
of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Fernando Goncalves and Ferai Mungazi were
released from police custody, pending a court appearance, on 9 February. Grace
Kwinjeh and Dr Ibbo Mandaza remain in custody, reportedly on the orders of
a senior police official. Dr Ibbo Mandaza requires medication for a lung illness.
All four are charged with allegedly publishing a false report “likely to cause
fear, alarm or despondency among the public”. The charges are in connection
with an article published by the paper on 30 October 1998 which reported that
a Zimbabwean family had received just the head of their son, a soldier in the
Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
where the army is deployed.
Following publication of the article, Grace Kwinjeh subsequently received an
anonymous telephone call from a man who wanted to know the source of the story.
She later told Amnesty International that the call had frightened her. Fernando
Goncalves also received a number of threatening calls relating to the same
article.
Amnesty International considers the detainees to be prisoners of conscience.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
In a televised address to the nation on 6 February 1999, President Robert Mugabe
attacked the media, human rights activists and "some agents of Britain" who
he alleged were undermining the loyalty of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).
In his address, the president also attacked four Supreme Court judges who had
written to him asking him to reaffirm his commitment to the “rule of law” in
Zimbabwe. The judges had also asked him to confirm that the power of arrest
remained with civilian police and not the armed forces, that he would not
tolerate torture, that he would sanction an investigation into allegations
of the recent torture of two journalists and that he would reaffirm his
confidence in the judiciary and police to investigate alleged crimes.
President Mugabe replied that the judges had no right to instruct him on any
matter and called upon them to resign and become politicians instead.
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In a sweeping attack against some journalists and human rights activists, he
named Clive Wilson, managing director of the Standard newspaper and its’
publisher Clive Murphy -- along with human rights lawyer David Coltart and
Mike Auret, the national director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and
Peace -- as having an "evil" agenda to topple his country's black government.
He said "They have pushed our sense of racial tolerance to the limit" and warned
that he would take "very stern measures against them". This is an apparent
threat of extra-legal action against them, since they have committed no
recognizable criminal offense.
The president condoned the alleged torture of the journalists, Mark Chavunduka
and Ray Choto, saying: "If the Standard had not behaved in such a blatantly
dishonest and unethical manner, the army would not have acted the way they
did”. The Standard printed an article on 10 January alleging that a plot within
the ZNA to overthrow the government of Robert Mugabe had been foiled and that
23 soldiers and officers had been arrested. Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto remain
out on bail, pending trial.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English or your own language:
- expressing fears for the safety in detention of Grace Kwinjeh and Dr Ibbo
Mandaza, following the recent torture of two other journalists arrested in
January 1999;
- seeking assurances that they will not be transferred into military custody
and will have full access to legal representatives, family and medical care;
- urging that they be immediately and unconditionally released from custody
as prisoners of conscience, detained solely for their legal activities as
journalists;
- urging the Zimbabwean authorities to reaffirm their opposition to torture
under any circumstances.
APPEALS TO (please note that fax tones may be difficult to obtain out of office
hours):
President Robert Mugabe
Office of the President
Private Bag 7700
Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe
Telegrams:President, Harare, Zimbabwe
Faxes: + 263 4 756 443 (Ask for the fax machine to be turned on) /
263 4 734 644 / 263 4 792 044
Salutation:Dear President Mugabe
Minister of Home Affairs Dumiso Dabengwa
Ministry of Home Affairs
Private Bag 505D
Harare, Zimbabwe
Telegrams:Minister Home Affairs, Harare, Zimbabwe
Faxes: + 263 4 726 716
Salutation:Dear Minister
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
Police Headquarters
PO Box 8807, Causeway
Harare, Zimbabwe
Telegrams:Police Commissioner, Harare, Zimbabwe
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Faxes:+ 263 4 728 768
Salutation:Dear Police Commissioner
COPIES TO:
The Zimbabwe Mirror
PO Box MP 1005,
Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
Faxes:+ 263 4 704953
The Standard/The Independent Newspapers
PO Box 661730
Kapje, 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.

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