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Zimbabwe Denies State-Sponsored Violence Claims

Zimbabwe Denies State-Sponsored Violence Claims

May 21, 2012, 3:00 p.m. ET

Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe—Zimbabwe’s justice minister rejected allegations that the 
country has state-sponsored violence and he vowed not to recognize gay 
rights after meeting with the U.N. human-rights chief Monday.

But the nation’s main independent civic groups accused President Robert 
Mugabe’s party of trying to present a “fraudulent” account on human-rights 
issues to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who is in 
Zimbabwe to assess the situation.

In a joint statement Monday, 36 groups said they will boycott a meeting with 
her arranged by Mr. Mugabe’s justice ministry at the Harare Parliament 
building scheduled Tuesday. The groups said bogus organizations, some even 
the perpetrators of injustice, were invited to “ambush” the rights 
defenders’ talks with Ms. Pillay.

Earlier, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said he told Ms. Pillay that 
claims of state-sponsored torture were untrue, and the allegations must be 

“There is no state-sponsored violence, these are all lies. We told her that 
there are no torture chambers in Zimbabwe,” he said.

He said that Zimbabwe will arrest same sex partners found committing illegal 
homosexual acts.

“We made it clear that in our law homosexual activities are criminalized and 
that any person who commits homosexual activities will be arrested,” he told 
reporters after meeting with Ms. Pillay in Harare.

Ms. Pillay arrived Sunday in Zimbabwe for a weeklong visit, the first by the 
world rights chief, to assess rights violations. Mr. Chinamasa says Ms. 
Pillay was invited by the coalition government formed in 2009 after 
disputed, violent elections that were plagued by abuses blamed mainly on 
militants of Mr. Mugabe’s party and loyalist police and troops.

Independent human-rights groups have compiled dossiers from witness accounts 
of systematic political violence, assaults, beatings, rape and torture over 
the past decade. At least 600 people have died, about 200 of them in 
violence during campaigning for the last national elections in 2008.

The 36 groups said Monday that Mr. Chinamasa had insisted there was nothing 
to hide from the U.N. envoy, but that he and justice ministry officials then 
tried to suppress the activists’ views.

Mr. Mugabe’s party wanted to stage manage her mission using loyalists to 
present “a glorified and sugar coated account” of rights issues, the 
statement said.

“They don’t take this seriously. They are here to abuse Pillay’s visit,” 
said Lovemore Mudhuku, an official of organizations that still hope to meet 
Ms. Pillay independently.

No response was immediately available from Ms. Pillay’s visiting delegation.

Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party routinely denies violence against its opponents.

Ms. Pillay, who served as a judge in her native South Africa, has been at 
the forefront of the documentation of reported killings in Syria during 
uprisings against the government. She was also a former judge at the 
International Criminal Court and head of the International Criminal Tribunal 
on Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

In 2009, chief U.N. torture investigator Manfred Nowak was barred entry into 
Zimbabwe at the Harare airport after claims he wasn’t officially cleared for 
the visit.

In 2005, another special envoy of the U.N. secretary-general angered Mr. 
Mugabe by criticizing a slum clearance program that left 700,000 people 
homeless in urban strongholds of the former opposition led by Morgan 
Tsvangirai, now the prime minister in the power-sharing coalition.

Ms. Pillay is scheduled to hold talks with Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Tsvangirai, 
defense and service chiefs, judges, lawmakers and rights groups. She will 
hear reports of alleged rights abuses at diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe 
where the military has been accused of shootings and torture of villagers 
and illegal diamond miners driven from mining areas.

Zanu-PF micro-managing UN Human Rights Chief’s tour‏

By Staff Reporter 1 hour ago

Harare – The government of Zimbabwe through the Permanent Secretary of the 
Ministry of Justice David Mangota has reportedly suppressed the interaction 
between the visiting UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and the local 
civil service organizations a move viewed as intended to stage manage the 
High Commissioner’s tour.

Addressing a joint press conference on Monday hosted by the Zimbabwe lawyers 
for Human Rights (ZLHR) endorsed by 37 local CSOs Abel Chikomo who read the 
statement on behalf of the NGO Forum claimed Mangota had instead hired some 
unknown human rights activists including a top human rights abuser the AAG 
and Zanu (PF) activist Goodson Nguni to stand as the CSOs in place of ‘the 
genuine ones’.

“The permanent secretary, David Mangota, ……….unilaterally changed the venue 
of the meeting, moving it to Parliament building and had invited several 
other ‘organisations’ that are not known to be doing any work on human 
rights in Zimbabwe,” said chikomo.

The CSOs said the actions of the government were a clear indication that 
they are the gross human rights abusers as evidenced by the fact that they 
have denied the CSOs just a thirty minute meeting with the High Commissioner 
out of her five day visit.

“Minister Chinamasa is already on record saying the government has nothing 
to hide – so why are they choosing to suppress interaction between Madam 
Pillay and credible and trusted CSOs who have been working on the ground for 
decades? We today are here to make it clear that genuine CSOs will not be 
commandeered by government to a stage-managed civil society meeting with the 
High Commissioner which is organised by the government; neither will we 
legitimise a fraudulent exercise meant to give the UN human rights chief a 
superficial picture of our country’s human rights situation,” said the NGO 

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Director Irene Petras said it was not up 
to government to say there were no human rights abuses but rather to the 
people who bear the brunt of the government’s abuses and that the actions of 
the government spoke volumes.

“It is very clear for every logical Zimbabwean who can read and write that 
the government is (or) could be hiding something. So let the people make 
their own conclusion on whether there are human rights abuses or not,” said 

Outspoken constitutional lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku said the CSOs 
that had been invited by government to the meeting where just an extension 
of the state which stands accused of the abuses on its own people.

“These are just an extension of the state now pretending to be involved in 
Human Rights issues who want to abuse the visit by the High Commissioner; 
this is how naïve they are,” said Madhuku.

Meanwhile the NGO Forum indicated their intention to boycott the upcoming 
meeting saying it would not endorse and legitimize tomorrow’s meeting 
between Pillay and the Zanu (PF)’s purported CSOs by attending it adding 
that they would only show up at the originally agreed venue.

The NGO Forum said they had already prepared a report they handed to the 
High Commissioner directly. -ZimEye


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