2 Introduction Similar to most countries that have been through a civil war, Zimbabwe has struggled with the issue of compensation for its victims. In 1980, the Zimbabwean government enacted the War Victims Compensation Act [Chapter 22]. The purpose of the Act was to provide payment of compensation for sustained injuries or the death of persons caused by the Liberation War. The War Victims compensation Act repealed the Victims of Terrorism (Compensation) Act [Chapter 340] and the notorious Indemnity and Compensation Act (1975), and amended the Workmen’s Compensation Act [Chapter 269] and the Pensions Review Act [Chapter 334]. This Act has thus been in existence for more than 17 years, but without substantive review or amendment. This can be taken as evidence that the Act has fulfilled its purpose well, but recent events have suggested that there may be problems with the Act, and these problems may be of two kinds: inadequacies in the original drafting, and inadequacies in the implementation. Here it is of concern to the AMANI Trust that few members of the community, ordinary citizens as opposed to ex-combatants, have received any compensation.1 This present paper will first analyse the problems involved in compensating victims of human rights violations, summarising the international perspective. It will then turn to a summary of the situation in Zimbabwe, detailing what is known here in Zimbabwe about the victims of gross human rights violations, and then examining these findings with respect to the War Victims Compensation Act(1980), and its provisions and procedures. Finally it will suggest various recommendations for the future review and amendment of the Act. The focus will be mostly upon victims of torture, as defined by the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, since torture victims are a very numerous - possibly the most numerous - category of victim in Zimbabwe, and a category for whom the War Victims Compensation Act is largely silent. Compensating victims of human rights violations The post-Second World War period has seen a sustained interest in issues of reparation, but the interest has grown rather more strongly in last two decades. In general. the field of international human rights law and international law have not devoted much time and effort to the problems of impunity, reparation, and rehabilitation, but this too has changed in the past decade. Much of this has been devoted to the issues of impunity and Truth Commissions, with the issues of compensation and rehabilitation being very much a secondary matter. The concept of reparation covers a variety of different actions, ranging from criminal prosecutions, civil suits for damages, compensation, and finally rehabilitation. Literally, “reparation” means to repair or put right, and thus refers to both legal and psycho-social interventions following a wrongful action.2 We shall not consider the problems of impunity or Truth Commissions, although they are clearly relevant to any consideration of human rights abuses, and also to reparation, and rehabilitation, but there has recently been interesting analyses of the concept of Truth Commissions.3 As pointed out above, reparation can refer to the process of prosecution under criminal law as amends for the wrong inflicted, but this is most frequently excluded by amnesties or statutes of impunity. Reparative damages can also come from civil actions, and there have been interesting developments in this area over recent years, particularly in the United States courts, and, also, there are now a substantial number of international legal instruments that support the concept of reparations following human rights violations. Here we might mention the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, 1 See AMANI (1997.a.), Report on Compensation claims made by AMANI clients (1995-1997), Harare: AMANI. See Edelstein(1994), “ Rights, reparations and reconciliation: Some comparative notes”, paper presented to Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, 27th July 1994. 3 See Hayner (1996), “Commissioning the truth: further research questions”, Third World Quarterly, 17, 19-29; Hayner, (1994), “Fifteen Truth Commissions - 1974 to 1994: A Comparative Study”, Human Rights Quarterly, 16, 597-655. 2

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