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Goff Urges Support for Rule of Law in Zimbabwe

Goff Urges Commonwealth Support for Rule of Law in Zimbabwe

Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff, says that the Zimbabwe Government must uphold the rule of law and stop the violence which is occurring there.

"White farmers are simply one group of many people, black and white, who have been victims of violence. The violence often appears to have been politically motivated and most often the authorities have failed to intervene to stop it. Frequently the victims have been people identified as political opponents of the Government who have been the deliberate target of violence and intimidation.

"It is ironic that it was in Zimbabwe in 1991 that the Commonwealth nations came together to issue the Harare Declaration committing members to a set of fundamental principles including the rule of law.

"The Commonwealth is the best-placed organisation to encourage and put pressure on the Zimbabwe Government to honour this commitment.

"I have spoken directly with Commonwealth Secretary General, Don McKinnon, to express my concerns and urge that every possible mechanism be used to persuade Zimbabwe to bring an end to the violence and uphold what its own courts have decreed. I understand the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group will be discussing the situation at its next meeting in May. I will be in London myself early next month and will be raising the matter with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and again with Don McKinnon.

"The voice of the Commonwealth reflects a cross-section of the world's communities and cannot be portrayed as simply a reflection of colonial thinking. Calls to uphold values such as free elections and the rule of law by those within the Commonwealth who have fought similar struggles for independence to Zimbabwe, cannot be ignored by the Zimbabwe Government.

"New Zealand has offered to participate in any appropriate Commonwealth action in support of the principles of the Harare Declaration. This includes contributing to a Commonwealth election observer team to help ensure that the election process is free and fair." Mr Goff said.


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