SA Police ‘Powerless’ to probe foreign crimes

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It was argued in the Constitutional Court, that the South African Police Service (SAPS) did not  have the power to investigate claims against humanity committed in Zimbabwe if the perpetrators were not in South Africa.

According to the Legal Resources Centre, the court’s decision could provide “practical content” to South Africa’s domestic and international obligations in terms of prosecuting crimes committed in any country where these crimes occur.

Arguments on whether the implementation of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court Act would allow South African authorities to investigate claims of torture against senior Zimbabwean officials if the  officials were not in SA, were heard in court.

The case started in 2008 when the Southern African Litigation Centre and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum presented a docket to the National Prosecuting Authority’s priority crimes litigation unit detailing acts of torture allegedly committed after a raid by Zimbabwean police on the headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

When the Zimbabwe police refused to investigate, the forum and the centre approached the high court in Pretoria to review that decision.

SAPS national commissioner Riah Phiyega is appealing against last year’s Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that the police are empowered to investigate whether or not the alleged perpetrators were in South Africa.

Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said that South Africa shared borders with Zimbabwe, the country’s ministers visited South Africa, and it would be useful for the South African authorities to investigate in case they visited the country. “I struggle to understand why it is far-fetched for the police to be on the ready so that they could be able to apprehend the offenders,” he said.

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Read more here:

 Concourt hears arguments in Zim torture

SA police ‘powerless’ to probe foreign crimes

 Police appeal against order to investigate Zimbabwe crimes

Zimbabwe torture case reaches South Africa’s Constitutional Court

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The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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