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Zimbabwean Politician Challenges Travel Ban in British High Court


Aguy Georgias, an official in the Zimbabwean government, is challenging a European Union travel ban imposed on him and other ranking members of Zimbabwe's government and ruling party. From London, Tendai Maphosa reports for VOA that the case is being considered by Britain's High Court .

Aguy Georgias, deputy minister of economic development, is on a list of some 150 members of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and government who cannot travel to the European Union and the United States. The European Union and the United States imposed the ban for alleged human rights abuses committed against critics of the government.

Georgias, who claims he is the holder of valid visas to both the United Kingdom and the United States, says he was denied passage through the United Kingdom on his way to the United States. In addition to challenging the travel ban, he is suing the British government for detaining him under conditions that made it impossible for him to take medication he needed.

"I was unfairly treated, I was humiliated, I was degraded, I was refused medical attention, I am a cardiac patient in spite of me telling them that I need to take hot meals to take my medication, they refused to give me that. I had my medication on me and to take that medicine you have to have a hot meal which I was denied, I had no food at all, except ice cold sandwiches which to me were stale," he said.

Georgias, in addition to opposing the travel ban on top Zimbabwean officials, is also a critic of targeted sanctions directed against the Zimbabwe government. He says the sanctions, which the E.U. imposed to force the government to respect the rights of ordinary Zimbabweans, were actually punishing them by denying Zimbabwe's government access to lines of credit and balance of payment support from the International Monetary Fund.

He says the countries that imposed the sanctions are members of the financial institutions that are blocking financial assistance to Zimbabwe. He also says that the human rights situation in Zimbabwe is just as good as in the United States or Britain. If people think otherwise, he says, it is because the British media do not give an accurate picture of what is happening in Zimbabwe.

"You think U.K. and even the United States itself are any better in human rights? Can you tell me they are better than Zimbabwe? Sometimes when you are in London, you can think people [in Zimbabwe] are ducking bullets, there's nobody shooting at anyone, that's the kind of propaganda you get in the U.K.," he said.

The High Court in London has confirmed Georgias' case has been lodged with it. It would not, however, give any details of the nature of his complaint. A court official said before the case is heard, a judge has to rule whether it warrants being brought to court, which probably will not happen until September. VOA also called the firm of lawyers Georgias said were handling his case, but it refused to discuss the case, citing client confidentiality.

In a related matter, a government controlled newspaper in Zimbabwe, The Herald, has reported that the governor of the Zimbabwe central bank, Gideon Gono, has been denied entry into the United Kingdom. In a statement, Britain's Home Office said while it is not its policy to comment on such matters, since Gono has chosen to go public, it can confirm that he has been excluded from the United Kingdom. The statement adds the Home Secretary may decide to exclude or deport any individual if she considers that their presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.