Zimbabwe

2,316

Immigration detainees

2016

Not Available

Detained children

2017

832

New asylum applications

2020

9,266

Refugees

2020

416,141

International migrants

2020

Overview

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

30 March 2021

Pindula News, “110 Inmates at Mutimurefu Prison Contract Coronavirus,” 27 January 2021, https://news.pindula.co.zw/2021/01/27/110-inmates-at-mutimurefu-prison-contract-coronavirus/
Pindula News, “110 Inmates at Mutimurefu Prison Contract Coronavirus,” 27 January 2021, https://news.pindula.co.zw/2021/01/27/110-inmates-at-mutimurefu-prison-contract-coronavirus/

Zimbabwe, which has a population of approximately 14 million, had recorded 36,822 cases of COVID-19 and 1,520 related deaths as of 29 March 2021. Although there have been reports indicating the use of immigration detention measures for many years in Zimbabwe, in particular for migrants en route to South Africa, the Global Detention Project has not found any information concerning measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of infection amongst people in immigration custody since the onset of the pandemic.

According to UNHCR, in 2020, there were 9,115 refugees, 11,760 asylum seekers, and 270,000 internally displaced persons in Zimbabwe. As part of its COVID-19 response in the country, UNHCR has helped install hand-washing stations in the Tongogara refugee camp and supported more than 1,200 children and young people with home-based learning.

The country has ratified several human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. However, at the time of writing, the country had not yet ratified other important human rights treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

During its review for the second cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review, Zimbabwe received several relevant recommendations, including: to “improve detention conditions in prisons and in police holding cells (Burundi) (para. 131.75)” and “ratify other human rights conventions, particularly the Convention against Torture and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (Congo) (para. 132.2).”

Zimbabwe’s prisons are notorious for being unsanitary, overcrowded, and lacking basic amenities like running water in cells. In March 2020, the government acknowledged that Zimbabwe’s prisons, with a capacity of 17,000 had a population of 22,000 people. In consequence, between March and June 2020, the government released 4,208 prisoners under presidential amnesty order. Yet, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), far too many remained behind bars to allow for social distancing. Lawyers who had visited prisons in Harare in July 2020 told HRW that while masks were being provided, inmates and certain guards did not use them partly due to the lack of information on protective measures against COVID-19.

In October 2020, the Zimbabwean Human Rights NGO Forum and a former prisoner lodged a High Court application seeking to compel the country’s finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, to release funds for prison facilities. The claimants argued that the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) failed to comply with basic COVID-19 regulations such as the provision of facemasks, hand sanitisers and social distancing and requested that the state provides water, food, vehicles, COVID-19 tests, and medical supplies. On 2 December 2020, the High Court ordered the government to ensure that every inmate at the Chikurubi Prison gets 60 litres of water daily and ordered the finance minister to release funds for supplementary water and food supply. The Court also ordered the country’s prison authority to separate healthy inmates from those who are ill and to provide essential medicines.

On 27 January 2021, 110 detainees tested positive to COVID-19 at the Mutimurefu prison, one of the most overpopulated in the country. Two weeks prior, a senior officer of the Chikurubi prison died from the virus and 15 guards in that prison tested positive for COVID-19.


Last updated:

ENFORCEMENT DATA

Total Migration Detainee Entries: Flow (year)
377
2010
65
2008
Total Migration Detainees: Flow + Stock (year)
2,316
2016
1,381
2015
1,813
2014
1,491
2013
712
2012
519
2011
365
2010
65
2009
Countries of Origin (Year)
Ethiopia (Malawi) Mozambique Congo (Kinshasa) South Africa
2016
Congo (Kinshasa) (China) Botswana Ethiopia Mozambique
2015
Uganda (Botswana) Madagascar Somalia China
2014
Ethiopia (Congo (Kinshasa)) Botswana Somalia China
2013
Botswana (China) Madagascar Somalia Uganda
2012
China (Botswana) Sierra Leone Somalia Madagascar
2011
China (Malawi) Nigeria South Africa Ethiopia
2010
Number of Women Placed in Immigration Detention (year)
466
2016
189
2015
471
2014
286
2013
155
2012
77
2011
29
2010
Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
Not Available
2017
Immigration Detainees as Percentage of Total Migrant population (Year)
0.35
2015
0.41
2013
0.09
2010
Number of Deportations/Forced Removals (Year)
1,966
2016
1,293
2015
1,319
2014
867
2013
641
2012
762
2011
348
2010
71
2008
Number of Voluntary Returns & Deportations (Year)
Not Available
2016
Criminal Prison Population (Year)
19,521
2017
18,980
2014
13,361
2010
16,429
2007
19,608
2004
19,376
2001
18,977
1998
21,212
1995
21,212
1992
Percentage of Foreign Prisoners (Year)
1.9
2017
0.7
2008
Prison Population Rate (per 100,000 of National Population)
120
2017
147
2014
107
2010
132
2007
156
2004
154
2001
154
1998
180
1995
191
1992

POPULATION DATA

Population (Year)
14,900,000
2020
15,603,000
2015
International Migrants (Year)
416,141
2020
411,257
2019
398,900
2015
International Migrants as Percentage of Population (Year)
2.8
2020
2.6
2015
Refugees (Year)
9,266
2020
8,956
2019
7,797
2018
7,572
2017
7,418
2016
6,085
2015
6,079
2014
Ratio of Refugees Per 1000 Inhabitants (Year)
0.47
2016
0.4
2014
New Asylum Applications (Year)
832
2020
1,841
2019
1,501
2016
480
2014
Number of People Granted Temporary Protection Status (Year)
Not Available
2020
Refugee Recognition Rate (Year)
75.3
2014
Stateless Persons (Year)
0
2020
0
2016
300,000
2015

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

Gross Domestic Product per Capita (in USD)
1,128.2
2020
931
2014
Remittances to the Country
922
2019
Remittances From the Country
0
2019
Unemployment Rate
6
2020
2014
Net Official Development Assistance (ODA) (in Millions USD)
974.89
2019
757.8
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
150 (Medium)
2019
155 (Low)
2015
Integration Index Score
17
2019
World Bank Rule of Law Index
8 (-1.26)
2019

B. Attitudes and Perceptions

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

Does the Country Detain People for Migration, Asylum, or Citizenship Reasons?
Yes
1979
Does the Country Have Specific Laws that Provide for Migration-Related Detention?
Yes
1979

LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

Do Migration Detainees Have Constitutional Guarantees?
Yes (Zimbabwe's Constitution of 2013, Part 2, Section 50: Rights of Arrested and Detained Persons) 2013 2013
2013
Detention-Related Legislation
Immigration Act [Chapter 4:02] of 1979 (1979) 2002
1979
Refugees Act [Chapter 4:03] of 1978 (1983) 2002
1983
Additional Legislation
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [Chapter 10:27] (2003)
2003
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act 2 of 2012 (Chapter 10:30) (2012)
2012
Immigration Regulations [Chapter 4:02] (1998) 2005
1998
Regulations, Standards, Guidelines
Immigration Regulations, 1998 (2005)
2005
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (General) Regulations, 2016 (2016)
2016

GROUNDS FOR MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

Immigration-Status-Related Grounds
Detention to establish/verify identity and nationality
1979
Detention for unauthorised entry or stay
1979
Detention for unauthorised exit
1979
Non-Immigration-Status-Related Grounds in Immigration Legislation
Detention on health-related grounds
1979
Detention on public order, threats or security grounds
1979
Criminal Penalties for Immigration-Related Violations
Yes (Yes)
1979
Grounds for Criminal Immigration-Related Incarceration / Maximum Length of Incarceration
Unauthorized entry (14)
1979
Has the Country Decriminalised Immigration-Related Violations?
No
1979
Children & Other Vulnerable Groups
Accompanied minors (Prohibited)
1979
Persons with disabilities (Provided)
1979
Mandatory Detention
No (No)
1979
Re-Entry Ban
Yes
1979

LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

Maximum Length of Administrative Immigration Detention
Number of Days: 14
1979
Average Length of Immigration Detention
Number of Days: 274
2018
Maximum Length of Detention of Asylum-Seekers
No Limit: Yes
1983
Recorded Length of Immigration Detention
No Limit: Yes
2018
Maximum Length in Custody Prior to Detention Order
No Limit: Yes
1979
Maximum Length of Detention at Port of Entry
Number of Days: 365
1979
Maximum Length of Incarceration for Immigration-Related Criminal Conviction
(730)
1979

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

Custodial Authorities
Department of Immigration (Ministry of Home Affairs) Immigration or Citizenship
1979
Apprehending Authorities
Zimbabwe Republic Police (Police) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2013
Zimbabwe Defence Forces (Military) Ministry of Immigration and/or Citizenship
2013
Detention Facility Management
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (Governmental)
2013
Formally Designated Detention Estate?
No
2017
Types of Detention Facilities Used in Practice
Police station (Criminal)
Local prison (Criminal)
2018

PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

Procedural Standards
Right to legal counsel (Yes) infrequently
2019
Access to asylum procedures (Yes) Yes
2019
Independent review of detention (Yes)
1979
Duration of Time between Detention Reviews (Day)
Number of Days: 3
1979
Legal Appeals (Year)
Number of appeals during year: 637
Number of successful appeals during year: 45
2015
Are Non-Custodial Measures/Alternatives to Detention (ATDs) Provided in Law?
Immigration Law: Yes
Asylum/Refugee Law: No
1979
Does the Law Stipulate Consideration of Non-Custodial Measures (ATDs) before Imposing Detention?
Immigration Law: No
1979
Types of Non-Custodial Measures (ATDs) Provided in Law
Registration (deposit of documents) (Yes)
1979
Access to Detainees
NGOs: Yes
International Monitors: Yes
2019
Recouping Detention or Removal Costs
Unknown
1979

DETENTION MONITORS

Is There A National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)?
2012
Official Name of NHRI
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
2012
Is There a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM-OPCAT)
2021
Official Name of NPM
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
2021
Types of Authorised Detention Monitoring Institutions
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (OPCAT National Preventive Mechanism (NPM))
2021
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO))
2019
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (National Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI))
2019
International Committee of the Red Cross (International or Regional Bodies (IRBs))
2019
Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (Parliamentary (Congressional) Organs)
2019
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO))
2019
ZimRights (Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO))
2019
Insitutions that Can Make Unannounced Visits
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
2012
Is the NHRI Recognised as Independent by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions?
Yes
2021
Does NHRI Visit Immigration Detention Centres?
Yes
2012
Does NHRI Receive Complaints?
Yes
2016
Does NHRI Release Reports on Immigration Detention?
Yes
2012
Does the NPM Visit Immigration Detention Centres?
Yes
2012
Does NPM Receive Complaints?
Yes
2012
Does NPM Release Reports on Immigration Detention?
Yes
2012
NHRI Monitoring Reports
Report: Follow Up Monitoring and Inspection Visit, Tongogara Refugee Camp, 18-21 February 2019
NGO capacity to receive complaints?
Yes
2019
Do NGOs publish reports on immigration detention?
Yes
2018
Yes
2015
Names of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that Carry Out Detention Monitoring Visits
Yes
2019
NGO Immigration Detention Monitoring Reports
Rights Behind Bars: A Study of Prison Conditions In Zimbabwe, 2018
In their Capacity as Human Rights Defenders: Women, 2015
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Yes
2018
International Monitoring Reports
International Organization for Migration, Migration in Zimbabwe: A Country Profile 2010-2016
[NEW] Is There A National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)?
Yes (Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission) Yes Yes Yes Yes
2012

TRANSPARENCY

Transparency Ranking on Migration-Related Detention
Little or No Transparency
2021
Is There a Publicly Accessible Official List of Currently Operating Detention Centres?
No
1979
Does the Country Provide Annual Statistics of the Numbers of People Placed in Migration-Related Detention?
Yes
2010
Is Detention Data Disaggregated?
No
2013
Does the Country Have Access to Information Legislation?
Yes
2003

READMISSION/RETURN/EXTRADITION AGREEMENTS

COVID-19

HEALTH CARE

Provision of Healthcare in Detention Centres
Limited or Some Detention Centres Only
2019
Medical Screening upon Arrival at Detention Centres (within 48 hours)
Yes
2005
Psychological Evaluation upon Arrival at Detention Centres
Yes
2005
Doctor on Duty at Detention Centres (at least once per week)
Yes
2005
Qualified Nurse Present at Detention Centres (on daily basis)
Unknown
2005
Regular Psychologist Visits at Detention Centres (at least once per week)
Unknown
2005

COVID-19 DATA

Has the Country Adopted These Pandemic-Related Measures for People in Immigration Detention?
Yes
2021
Have cases of COVID-19 been reported in immigration detention facilities or any other places used for immigration detention purposes?
Yes
2020
Has the Country Released People from Criminal Prisons During the Pandemic?
Yes
2021
Has the Country Commenced a National Vaccination Campaign?
Yes
2021
Have Populations of Concern Been Included/Excluded From the National Vaccination Campaign?

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES

International Treaties Ratified
Ratification Year
Observation Date
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
1981
2017
CRSSP, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
1998
2017
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
2013
2017
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
1991
2017
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
1991
2017
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
1991
2017
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1991
2017
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
1991
2017
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child
1990
2017
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
2013
2017
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Ratio: 10/19
Treaty Reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
CRSR Article 22 1981
1981
Individual Complaints Procedures
Acceptance Year
CRPD, Optional Protocol to o the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2013
2013
Ratio of Complaints Procedures Accepted
Observation Date
1
Relevant Recommendations Issued by Treaty Bodies
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
Committee on the Rights of the Child §77. “(a) Take measures to ensure that all children born in the State party have the legal right to be registered at birth with a name, regardless of their parents’ citizenship status and/or country of origin, and that they have equal access to health care, protection, education and other social services; (b) Consider ratifying the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and amend its domestic legislation on nationality accordingly so as to ensure that every child enjoys the right to acquire a nationality.” The CRC also urged the State party to “(f) Continue the Pretrial Diversion Programme and ensure that children have access to alternative disciplinary measures to deprivation of liberty, such as probation, mediation, counselling or community service, and ensure that detention is used as a last resort; (g) Establish child-sensitive complaint mechanisms regarding ill-treatment and torture of children in police custody and detention; (h) Ensure the independent monitoring of places where children are deprived of their liberty.” 2016
2016
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women § 46. "(b) Promote the use of alternatives to detention, especially for pregnant women, mothers of young children and women heads of household, improve the conditions in female detention facilities in accordance with the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules) and enhance the measures to protect women in detention from gender-based violence, including through regular monitoring and independent and confidential complaint mechanisms 2020
2020

NON-TREATY-BASED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Relevant Recommendations from the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2011
No 2016

REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Regional Legal Instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
Observation Date
ACHPR, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights 1986
1986
2017
ACRWC, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1995
1995
2017
APRW, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) 2008
2008
2017

GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

Legal Tradition(s)
Civil law
2017
Common law
2017
Customary law
2017

DETENTION COSTS

OUTSOURCING

FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR DETENTION OPERATIONS