Zimbabwe’s Permanent Guantánamo

Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that detainees at Guantánamo Bay have the right to habeas corpus – the right to challenge the factual and legal basis of their detention in a court of law. In Zimbabwe, this right – like so many other checks and balances on the arbitrary exercise of power – has been torn away by a repressive state.

JOHANNESBURG – Last week, the United States Supreme Court ruled that detainees at Guantánamo Bay have the right to habeas corpus – the right to challenge the factual and legal basis of their detention in a court of law. I was elated by the decision, having spent four years working on ensuring the rule of law in US detention and interrogation policy, including monitoring military commission trials at Guantánamo Bay. But my happiness is tempered by where I sit, close to the border with Zimbabwe – a country where the writ of habeas corpus and the rule of law have become obsolete. 

Habeas corpus, Latin for “you have the body,” is an old English common law principle incorporated into the US Constitution to ensure freedom from unlawful detention by the state. It was and continues to be a critical check against the imprisonment of individuals without oversight by independent courts. In Zimbabwe, this right – like so many other checks and balances – has been torn away by a repressive state.

Just hours before the US Supreme Court ruling, Tendai Biti, the Secretary-General of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was arrested upon his return to Zimbabwe. Despite immediate attempts by his lawyers to locate him, his whereabouts remained unknown for days. The police dismissed an initial court order demanding that Biti be produced before the court.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/hzD5uyE;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now