Due to the tireless efforts of Campaign Advisory Committee member AIDS-Free World and their partners, South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority and the Police Service will investigate Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's political party for systematic rape in the lead-up to Zimbabwe's elections in 2008.
AIDS-Free World filed a legal submission requesting the investigation and prosecution of these crimes against humanity. The submission consisted of the testimony of 84 survivors and reports from witnesses, doctors, and non-governmental organizations. It names more than 200 perpetrators and orchestrators of sexual violence.
AIDS-Free World estimates that Mugabe's party raped thousands of opposition supporters during the election.
This is the first time an African government has used domestic laws to investigate another African country under "universal jurisdiction" for a crime of sexual violence. The decision has been called "a sign of the growing resistance to the use of rape as an organized political tactic." Seeking justice within Zimbabwe's own legal system is not possible, nor can the International Criminal Court prosecute because Zimbabwe has not ratified the Rome Statute.
When asked about Zimbabwe's upcoming 2013 elections, AIDS-Free World co-director Paula Donovan explained:
"This action on the part of South Africa will definitely not go unnoticed by Robert Mugabe and others who have consistently over the years used these same tactics to intimidate voters and to maintain power, and so I think that this will send a very clear message to those perpetrators that this is not something that can be repeated, that we are all on notice and watching."
On March 16, Zimbabweans will vote on a new constitution. A few months later presidential elections will be held. President Mugabe will once again run as a candidate.
Read the press release, "For Mugabe's Rape Gangs, Time Has Run Out," from AIDS-Free World.
In ground-breaking move, S. Africa steps in over alleged Zimbabwe mass rapes, The Globe and Mail, 25 February 2013.
Listen to CBC's The Current interview "Investigating reports of Zimbabwe rapes under 'universal jurisdiction'" with Campaign members Stephen Lewis, co-director of AIDS-Free World, and Lauren Wolfe, director of Women Under Siege.