“Mugabe unlikely to face justice”

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Posted by Fidelis Ndimande

President Robert Mugabe and his co-perpetrators are not likely to face indictment and trial on the crimes against humanity during the Gukurahundi massacres that left over 20 000 civilians in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces dead.

A recent probe into the Gukurahundi killings with an intention of qualifying the state’s excesses as genocide by an international human rights watchdog Genocide Watch has left a debate over the eligibility of Robert Mugabe and his henchmen to face an international hearing.

Legal experts say the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have a legal jurisdiction to try Mugabe as Zimbabwe is not a signatory to the 2002 Rome treaty which is a statute that established the ICC.
Human rights defender and legal practitioner Matshobana Ncube said he doubts if there is any chance of Mugabe facing trial on an international level.

“Besides that Zimbabwe is not a treaty party, some of these treaties do not have retrospectivity, that is, when they come into force they do not apply backwards or the period prior to their coming into force,” Ncube said, “It’s really difficult to say he can come under that treaty for prosecution.”

However, the United Nations can instigate an investigation on the crimes committed by state militants against civilians through setting up a special tribunal.

President of Genocide Watch, Gregory Stanton says establishment of a UN-Zimbabwe tribunal can probe the matter and bring Mugabe to justice.

“We call upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a full investigation of the Gukurahundi, with the aim of establishing a mixed UN – Zimbabwean Tribunal to put Mugabe and his co-perpetrators on trial for their crimes.” Stanton said in a statement.

Lawyer Matshobana Ncube said it is possible for the UN to institute an investigation.

“You will recall that the president of Sudan which is not a signatory to the ICC had a warrant of arrest issued against him.” Ncube said.

However, Ncube took a swipe at Genocide Watch and the first world countries for failing to speak against organised mass killings of civilians in the early 1980s when it was happening.

“There has been a very worrying concern that when these things were happening, these western countries were very much aware of the happenings and they kept quiet.” Ncube said, “Ordinarily, we are seeing a situation whereby they are having a fallout with Mr Mugabe and as such that’s why they are coming up with these things.”

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