Former member of Mugabe secret police granted asylum in UK
A former member of Robert Mugabe’s feared secret police in Zimbabwe who admitted kidnapping dozens of his political rivals and carrying out acts of torture “too gruesome to recount” has been granted asylum in the UK under
European human rights legislation.
By Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg 20 May 2011
Phillip Machemedze, 46, came to the UK in 2000 along with his wife because he had “enough of the torture”, but waited eight years to apply for leave to remain.
He was originally turned down by the Home Office in March this year because he had committed crimes against humanity.
But on May 4, he was granted asylum on appeal under European human rights laws because a tribunal ruled he would be killed by his former Central Intelligence Organisation colleagues if he returned to Zimbabwe.
According to sources close to the case, he and his wife are living on social support benefits in Newport, south Wales.
An estimated 800 people were kidnapped or disappeared, 80 were killed and 90 more tortured in the run-up to the 2000 elections in Zimbabwe, which saw Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF beat the rival Movement for Democratic Change party by a slim majority.
The CIO, along with the police and armed forces, was widely blamed for the worst of the violence – and there are fears that it could be preparing another crackdown ahead of elections planned within the next year.
Mr Machemedze spent four years in the CIO and admits smashing the jaw of an MDC activist with pliers before pulling out his tooth and stripping another naked and threatening to force him to rape his daughters if he did not give
He also confessed to electrocuting, slapping, beating and punching “to the point of being unconscious” a white farmer suspected of giving money to the MDC, and to “putting salt into the wounds” of a female MDC member who
imprisoned in an underground cell before being stripped naked and whipped.
But he claims he tried to leave the CIO and was supplying information to the MDC. He said his wife was tortured after he left the country, prompting her to leave behind their three children and follow her husband to the UK.
Mr Justice David Archer, of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber in Newport, said there was no doubt that Mr Machemedze was “deeply involved in savage acts of extreme violence”.
“Some were killed slowly and their bodies disposed of. He witnessed people with their limbs cut off. Other acts of torture were too gruesome to recount,” he said.
But he said that under the European Human Rights Convention, he himself should be protected from torture and threats to his life.
“Those rights are absolute and whatever crimes PM has committed, he cannot be returned to face the highly likely prospect of torture and execution without trial,” he ruled.
The Home Office has said it will not appeal the ruling.