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Zimbabwe: From Impunity to Accountability – Are Reparations Possible for Victims of Gross and Systematic Human Rights Violations?

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The Case of Henry Dowa: The United Nations and Zimbabwe under the Spotlight

In May 2003 REDRESS learned that an allegedly notorious Zimbabwean police torturer, Henry Dowa, was in Kosovo. Sources inside and outside of Zimbabwe confirmed that there were numerous serious allegations of torture linked to him, and further investigations revealed that Dowa was part of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) civilian police force (CIVPOL). CIVPOL is made up of several thousand police officers drawn from UN Member States, including Zimbabwe. In June 2003 REDRESS dispatched a comprehensive dossier to the head of UNMIK, comprising affidavits from Zimbabwe torture survivors detailing what they had suffered allegedly at Dowa’s hands, including electric shock torture and beatings on the bare soles of the feet, supported by medical evidence. The dossier also contained an analysis of current human rights violations in Zimbabwe, especially torture, and demonstrated that it is virtually impossible to bring violators to justice under domestic law under current conditions. Finally, the attention of UNMIK was drawn to the relevant international laws under which it is obliged to act, and in particular the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In September 2003, the UN asked the Zimbabwe government to withdraw Dowa, which it did. He returned to Zimbabwe, once again beyond the reach of justice. In this report REDRESS documents the issues arising from the case of Henry Dowa.  

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