A government spokesman has dismissed as spurious a call to have President Robert Mugabe brought before the International Criminal Court for abuse of human rights and breach of international law.
Mr. Mugabe's press secretary, George Charamba, told the local weekly The Sunday Mirror that the call for indictment was an attempt to tarnish the image of the president and the country.
Mr. Charamba was reacting to the call by Mark Ellis, the executive director of the London-based International Bar Association, in an article for The International Herald Tribune newspaper. In his article, Mr. Ellis said the U.N. Security Council should exercise, what he called, its wide discretionary powers to brand Mr. Mugabe an ongoing threat to the peace and security of the region and authorize the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the president and his regime.
The International Criminal Court was created by the United Nations to promote the rule of law around the world.
But Mr. Charamba said Zimbabwe is not a signatory to the statute that created the ICC and is therefore not legally bound by its dictates.
Mr. Charamba described the International Bar Association as part of a raft of bodies that are trying to place pressure on the Zimbabwe government in the hope that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change will soon witness a revival in the southern Africa country.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is currently wracked by internal divisions over how to challenge Mr. Mugabe's regime.
Among the charges Mr. Ellis says the Zimbabwean leader must answer for are last year's demolition of unauthorized residential structures and informal businesses. A report by U.N. special envoy Anna Tibaijuka in the aftermath of the forced evictions said the removals had affected 700,000 Zimbabweans directly and thousands of others indirectly.
Mr. Ellis also referred to what he described as overwhelming evidence that Mugabe's government has committed other crimes against humanity, including imprisonment, rape, abduction, and torture.
Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic and political crisis since independence in 1980. Mr. Mugabe accuses the West, led by former colonial power Britain, of demonizing his rule in order to secure regime change. According to the president this is punishment for the land reform program he launched in 2000.
The often-violent exercise saw the majority of 4,500 white commercial farmers losing their land for the resettlement of landless blacks. But the president has admitted that the program has not been a resounding success as some of his allies helped themselves to more than one farm.