Coalition government fails to stem killings
The power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe has failed to stop extra-judicial killings, kidnappings and torture, a new report on the state of rule of law in Zimbabwe has revealed. The report titled A Place in the Sun, was prepared by international legal bodies, the Bar Council, Bar Human Rights Committee, Commonwealth Lawyers Association and Advocates Sans Frontiers.
It looks at the state of the rule of law in Zimbabwe since President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC political parties went into a coalition government in 2008. According to the report, human rights abuses continue to occur and go uninvestigated by the authorities.
“The culture of impunity on the part of the police, army and intelligence services persists. “The majority of the senior judiciary are still compromised by state patronage, grants of land and other inducements,” reads the report. “And magistrates, the ‘unsung heroes of recent years, remain subject to threats, intimidation, arrest and prosecution when their rulings displease the government.”
The report said the law faculty of the University of Zimbabwe was in a ‘dilapidated state’. “The student body has been infiltrated by the intelligence service, making it difficult for lecturers and students to be candid, for fear of reprisals,” the report says.
Authors of the report, however, praise the dedication of the teaching staff. “Access to justice is virtually non-existent, the legal aid system is so starved of funds that the Legal Aid Directorate is on the ‘verge of collapse’, and there is ‘no properly articulated or coherent policy’ for addressing failures in the rule of law,” it said.
The legal bodies urged the government to allow lawyers to practice “without hindrance, harassment or intimidation”, to introduce a code of conduct for judges and to end “forthwith” the culture of impunity by the police and state security forces.