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Human rights group uncovers evidence of torture in Zimbabwe

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 09 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:317
  1. Annabel Ferriman
  1. BMJ

    Evidence of severe torture in Zimbabwe, which is experiencing unrest in the weeks leading up to the country's presidential election in March, has been uncovered by a human rights organisation.

    A delegation from Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark, which visited Zimbabwe last month, has reported finding “a series of persons who gave consistent and similar accounts of exposure to torture.” Members interviewed 14 people, of whom four were classified as torture victims, while another four gave accounts of ill treatment, one of whom was a sitting MP. The four torture victims had physical wounds consistent with the accounts of their treatment.

    The group, which has published its report on a website sponsored by the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, says it is “very concerned about the politicisation of health care and the harassment of human rights organisations offering treatment to victims of political violence.”

    Dr Hans Draminsky Petersen, who led the delegation, told the BMJ, “In medical literature acute lesions that beyond any reasonable doubt indicate torture are very rarely described in a series of victims. We think the medical profession should be aware …

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