Jestina Mukoko is a human rights activist, former journalist, and the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, an NGO that documents human rights abuses by Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship. In 2008, she was abducted and tortured by security forces for allegedly recruiting youths for military training with the opposition group Movement for Democratic Change. She was released three months later. In 2010, Mukoko was honored with the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award, given to women who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advancing women’s rights.

About

Mukoko currently directs the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), a nonprofit human rights monitoring group that documents abuses committed by the Zimbabwean government. She is one of many political and human rights advocates subjected to arrest and torture in Zimbabwe, a country known for its severe human rights abuses. Under Mugabe’s 32-year rule, the government of Zimbabwe has suppressed civil society through arbitrary detention, media censorship, torture of political opponents, and the murder and disappearance of dissidents.

In 2008, Mukoko was abducted by police from her home in Harare, interrogated, and forced to confess under torture to recruiting youths for military training by an opposition movement. Three months after her abduction, she was released on bail.

Mukoko courageously fought against the false charges used to justify her arrest, eventually bringing her case before the Zimbabwean Supreme Court. Her eventual exoneration, which resulted in a court order to cease all prosecution against her, is a source of hope for other imprisoned activists and symbolizes the power of perseverance in the face of violence and intimidation.

Prior to her work at the ZPP, Mukoko worked on an innovative peace-building project for the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust that brought together political opponents in cities across the country to work together to stop political violence.