Zimbabwe: State ordered to pay 150,000USD reparation to Jestina Mukoko

Urgent Appeal

New information
ZIM 008 / 1208 / OBS 206.6
October 12, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your intervention in the following situation in Zimbabwe.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the compensation of Ms. Jestina Mungareva Mukoko, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) [1] and Board Member of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

According to the information received, on September 27, 2018, the High Court of Zimbabwe ordered the Zimbabwean State to pay a total of 150,000 USD (around 130,580 Euros) to Ms. Jestina Mukoko before October 31, 2018, in compensation for the abduction, incommunicado detention and torture she suffered at the hands of state security agents in 2008 (see background information below). The sum includes 100,000 USD for her claims and 50,000 USD as a contribution towards her legal costs.

The Observatory recalls that in December 2008 Ms. Mukoko was abducted, detained incommunicado and subjected to torture. After her release from prison on March 2, 2009, Ms. Jestina Mukoko and her lawyer undertook legal action against the State, demanding a 220,000 USD (around 191,600 Euros) compensation for her abduction. In September 2009, the High Court of Zimbabwe granted Ms. Jestina Mukoko a permanent stay of prosecution considering the violation of her fundamental rights by state security agents. Indeed, Ms. Mukoko was subjected to torture and inhumane and degrading treatment (i.e. simulated drowning, being locked in a freezer, physical assaults) by the agents who tried to make her confess plotting against Robert Mugabe’s administration.

On March 27, 2017, the High Court ruled that those who had illegally arrested her could be sued in their personal capacities. However, Ms. Mukoko decided not to continue pursuing her alleged abductors.

The Observatory welcomes the award of compensation to Ms. Jestina Mukoko and thanks all the persons, organisations and institutions that intervened in her favour. The Observatory recalls that this is the first major award of compensation from the State to a human rights defender in Zimbabwe.

Background information:

On December 3, 2008, Ms. Mukoko was abducted by a group of 15 unidentified armed men from her home in Norton. On December 8, 2008, Messrs. Broderick Takawira, ZPP Provincial Coordinator, and Pascal Gonzo, ZPP driver, were also abducted by at least five men at the ZPP offices in Harare. Ms. Mukoko and Mr. Broderick’s whereabouts remained unknown until December 24, 2008, when they first appeared before the Harare Magistrates Court, after weeks of incommunicado detention.

On January 5 and 6, 2009, Ms. Mukoko, Mr. Gonzo and Mr. Takawira, accused by the Government of “recruiting or goading other people to undergo military training in neighbouring Botswana aimed at toppling Robert Mugabe’s Government”, appeared before the Harare Magistrates Court. The hearing in Ms. Mukoko and Mr. Takawira’s case was then postponed, pending a decision of the High Court on an application demanding further medical examination in a well-equipped hospital, as they reportedly bore signs of torture and ill-treatment.

The Observatory was further informed that during the first ten days of her detention, Ms. Mukoko was not allowed to take medication for an allergic condition, and was prescribed medication for anxiety and insomnia by an army doctor who had facilitated acts of torture against her.

Messrs. Pascal Gonzo and Broderick Tarawira were released on bail by the High Court of Zimbabwe on February 6 and 26, 2009, respectively.

On March 2, 2009, Ms. Jestina Mukoko was released on bail by the Harare Magistrates Court’s decision, on payment of 600 USD (around 523 Euros).

Actions requested:
Please write to the authorities of Zimbabwe asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Jestina Mukoko and all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

iii. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles 1 and 12; and
iv. Ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international human rights instruments ratified by Zimbabwe.

President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa; Fax: +263 4 708 211 / + @edmnangagwa
Mr. Cain Mathema, Minister of Home Affairs
Mr. Sibusiso Moyo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, xxx
Mr. Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, +263 2 42 77 46 20/7, xxx
Mr. Prince Machaya, Attorney-General, Office of the Attorney; Fax: + 263 4 77 32 47;
Ambassador Mr. Taonga Mushayavanhu, Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations in Geneva; Fax: + 41 22 758 30 44; Email: mission.zimbabwe@ties.itu.int
Embassy of Zimbabwe in Brussels; Fax: + 32 2 762 96 05 / + 32 2 775 65 10, Email: zimbrussels@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Zimbabwe in your respective country. 
Paris-Geneva, October 12, 2018
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] Zimbabwe Peace Project is a NGO working for sustainable peace in Zimbabwe through human rights monitoring, documentation, advocacy and community peace building interventions.

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