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
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
Amnesty International considers the detainees to be prisoners of conscience.
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.