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Maori Party stops full support for ICC submission

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

6 July 2005

Maori Party prevents unanimous support for ICC submission

Parties from across the political spectrum have joined together to overwhelmingly support a submission to the International Cricket Council regarding the proposed New Zealand Cricket tour to Zimbabwe, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

"The submission calls on the ICC to remove Zimbabwe from the Future Tours Programme and to release member countries from financial and other penalties should a cricket tour be cancelled because of gross human rights abuses occurring in a country.

"The submission is also being supported by Australia and we have called on other countries also to endorse its sentiments.

"Parties also agreed on an aide memoire on Zimbabwe which is being used today in approaches by New Zealand and Australia to the G8 Countries meeting in Scotland.

"These submissions would have had unanimous support from New Zealand's parliament but for the refusal of Tariana Turia and the Maori Party to back it.

"I am frankly appalled at Dr Pita Sharples' comments on this issue. It's an utter cop-out for Dr Sharples and Mrs Turia to say that they don't have adequate information on what is going on in Zimbabwe. No New Zealander who has watched events there over recent years and particularly over the last month has any excuse for pretending to be ignorant of what is happening to people in that country.

"Dr Sharples' excuse that the Mugabe regime has 'just been sort of released from colonisation, trying to find their own feet and its going to take a bit of tough and tumble before they do find the way', is nothing short of pathetic.

"Zimbabwe has been independent now for 25 years, and was the richest country in Southern Africa. It has been destroyed by incompetence, greed, corruption and authoritarianism to the extent that life expectancy has dropped from 61 to 33 years.

"Dr Sharples' demonstrates a kind of reverse racism in refusing to condemn Mugabe for appalling human rights abuses which if committed by any white dictator he would be expressing his outrage about.

"His attitudes and comments are reminiscent of Tame Iti's support for Speights' violent overthrow of democracy in Fiji, because it was carried out by a group of indigenous people.

"Evil and wrong-doing can be committed by people of any race and we should be consistent in our condemnation of it," Mr Goff said.

New Zealand letter to the ICC


5 July 2005

Ehsan Mani President International Cricket Council The Clock Tower Lord's Cricket Ground London NW8 8QN UNITED KINGDOM

Dear Mr Mani

You will be aware of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. Since early June, over 200,000 people have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed by the government of Zimbabwe. This came on top of an already bad situation in the country. The government has been systematically undermining the rule of law, the independence of the media and the judiciary, and committing violence against its citizens.

The appalling human rights abuses taking place in Zimbabwe cannot be ignored. We are gravely concerned for the wellbeing of the people of Zimbabwe, and believe that it is extremely difficult to justify sporting tours going ahead in such circumstances.

The New Zealand cricket team is due to tour Zimbabwe in August. The New Zealand Government has made it clear that it is against the tour going ahead. We are aware that under the Members Agreement between ICC Full Members relating to the Future Tours Programme, New Zealand Cricket faces a financial penalty of at least US$2 million, payable to the Zimbabwe Cricket Union as host nation, if New Zealand Cricket cancels the tour.

New Zealand Cricket may therefore be forced into a situation of having to tour Zimbabwe even if its members have moral objections to having to play cricket while just kilometres from the grounds people are having their homes destroyed and their basic human rights abused. New Zealand Cricket therefore would incur a fine, as well as the loss of world ranking points if the tour was cancelled because of the inappropriateness of playing cricket in Zimbabwe in these circumstances.

The Members Agreement contemplates the ICC revising and updating the Future Tours Programme. Such changes, we are advised, would bind ICC Members under the Agreement.

We believe that the International Cricket Council cannot ignore these gross abuses as if they were not happening when scheduling the Futures Tours Programme. We therefore request the ICC, as a matter of urgency, to consider revising the Future Tours Programme to exclude tours to Zimbabwe and by Zimbabwe while this situation continues in that country.

We consider that such a revision would be consistent with the terms of the Members Agreement and would be a valuable demonstration by the ICC of its commitment to upholding respect for human rights and the broader values and reputation of cricket in its member countries.

We would also request the ICC put before its Members for consideration the proposal that the Members should agree to release a Member from an undertaking to tour or to accept a tour, and from any risk of penalties, in circumstances where a cricket tour has been cancelled in recognition of gross human rights abuses occurring in any country. We recognise that the grounds for such a release would need to be subject to the independent verification procedures in Clause 9 of the Members Agreement.

We would be grateful if you could circulate this letter to all members of the International Cricket Council. Please note that this approach has the overwhelming support of New Zealand parliamentarians and of the Government of Australia.

Yours sincerely

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

ENDS


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