NEWS RELEASE: HIGH COURT DISMISSES APPEAL APPLICATION IN ZIMBABWE TORTURE CASE

Salc : Staff Writer

Johannesburg – The North Gauteng High Court today dismissed an application for leave to appeal against last month’s ruling that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and South African Police Services (SAPS) must investigate crimes against humanity committed in Zimbabwe.

This application, brought by the NPA and SAPS, was in response to the High Court’s landmark ruling in favour of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre’s (SALC) and Zimbabwe Exile Forum’s (ZEF). The NPA and SAPS were found to have ignored their international and domestic Rome Statute obligations to investigate torture as a crime against humanity regardless of where the crime is committed or by whom. The High Court ordered the SAPS and NPA to investigate allegations of torture committed in Zimbabwe which were brought to the attention of NPA and SAPS in 2008.

“This decision confirms the correct application and interpretation of South Africa’s obligations to investigate and prosecute international crimes,” said Nicole Fritz, Executive Director of SALC. “The NPA and SAPS must now take action and they can no longer justify delaying the initiation of an investigation of crimes that have been ignored for over four years.”

The NPA and SAPS argued that the High Court’s finding that South Africa’s domestic Rome Statute Act requires South Africa to investigate core international crimes when committed outside of South Africa was incorrect. The NPA and SAPS maintain that South Africa only has jurisdiction to prosecute these crimes. It was also argued that the court had erred in accepting that SALC and ZEF had legal standing to bring this case.

Judge Hans Fabricius dismissed both arguments finding that NPA and SAPS failed to demonstrate that this case was not brought in the public interest and in the interest of the Zimbabwean torture victims. Judge Fabricius also found that the NPA’s and SAPS’ interpretation would render South Africa’s domestic Rome Statute Act meaningless and that they ignored the fact that investigations are a necessary component of prosecutions.

In dismissing the application Judge Fabricius concluded that an appeal has no reasonable prospects of success and noted that even if leave to appeal had been granted he would not have suspended the initiation of an investigation pending the outcome of an appeal.

For more information contact:

Nicole Fritz, SALC Director, +27 11 5875065, Cell +27 82 600 1028; NicoleF@salc.org.za

Gabriel Shumba, ZEF Chairperson, Cell +27 72 639 3795

Alan Wallis, SALC, + 27 11 5875065, Cell +27 82 826 5700; AlanW@salc.org.za