News / Africa

UN Rights Chief Urges to Lift Sanctions on Zimbabwe Leadership

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (file photo) (AP)U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (file photo) (AP)
x
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (file photo) (AP)
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (file photo) (AP)
HARARE - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has urged Western countries to suspend sanctions on Zimbabwe and its president - Robert Mugabe - to give the country a chance to implement reforms. The call came as Pillay ended her landmark five-day visit Friday.

Navi Pillay, a former South African High Court judge who has also served on the International Criminal Court, told reporters here in Harare Friday that sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party leadership are hindering economic progress in Zimbabwe.

“While it is difficult to disentangle the specific causes of Zimbabwe’s major social and economic ills, there seems little doubt that the existence of the sanctions regimes has - at the very least - acted as a serious disincentive to overseas banks and investors," said Pillay. "It is also likely that the stigma of sanctions has limited certain imports and exports. I would urge those countries that are currently applying sanctions on Zimbabwe to suspend them, at least until the conduct and outcome of the elections and related reforms are clear.”

The United States and European Union laid sanctions on Mugabe and his Zanu PF party leadership in 2002 - following reports of election rigging and human rights abuses.
The disputed 2008 elections only solidified Western concern. Mugabe claimed victory, but was forced by regional powers into a coalition with the opposition MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister.

Mugabe actually extended the invitation to former jurist Pillay, in the hope of clearing his government from persisting allegations of rights abuses ahead of the next crucial elections.

The call to lift sanctions may be a boost for the Zimbabwe president, but the rest of Pillay's visit did not deliver all the desired results. She did not support his call for elections this year to replace the divided coalition government. Instead she sided with MDC Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, saying human rights abuses continue and legal reforms were needed before there could be a fair vote.

“Unless the parties agree quickly on some key major reforms, before the next election - which should be held some time in the coming year - could turn into a repeat of the 2008 elections which resulted in rampant politically motivated human rights abuses, including killings, torture, rapes, beatings, arbitrary detention, displacements and other violations," she said.

On a more positive note, several people told me they believe that, if the country can get through the next 18 months or so without another political and human rights problem, it could finally turn the corner towards renewed stability and prosperity.”

Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told reporters that the targeted sanctions should be lifted unconditionally and not suspended for elections, as recommended by the UN chief.  

He says Pillay has no right to dictate when the Zimbabweans could hold elections.
"When elections are to be held is an internal Zimbabwean matter," said Chinamasa. "I just wish outsiders could keep away from commenting on our internal processes. Parties are agreed to have elections soon after completion of a new constitution process. If that process becomes protracted to a point where it is difficult to hold elections this year, then there might be parting of ways between that process and elections…"

Besides calling for reforms, the UN rights chief warned the Army - which has openly supported Mugabe - to remain neutral in the next election. Pillay also called on Zimbabwe's government to repeal laws that restrict the rights of activists and journalists.
Zimbabwe must hold elections by June 2013. But delays in ratifying a new constitution because of political infighting has put that deadline in doubt.

Analysts say the Zanu-PF wants to hold elections sooner rather than later, while the 88-year-old Mugabe is still strong enough to campaign.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mark Mayfield from: Nashville, TN USA
May 25, 2012 9:19 PM
The only sanctions are on the leaders, not the people, not the general businesses of Zimbabwe (except the blood diamonds that are going into Mugabe's pockets).

I have to disagree with her conclusions.

by: L. Eaton from: South Africa
May 25, 2012 3:30 PM
Calling for the lifting of sanctions against Mugabe is tantamount to approval of all his disgraceful misdeads and crimes. It is appalling that Pillay can use her position to blatantly condone this dictator's actions. Her attitude is a carry-over of the South African so called "Quiet diplomacy" started by Mbeki's regime and amounts to nothing less than support for Mugabe and those who would emulate him. Pillay should be calling for a war-crimes tribunal for Mugabe. She should resign immediately, she has no judgement and is unfit to hold that position.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More