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Cablegate: Tip and Our Agenda in Zimbabwe

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) As the TIP process progresses to conclusion, I
wanted to register my serious concern over Zimbabwe's
proposed inclusion on Tier 3. As you know, the GOZ's
comprehensive maladministration has precipitated ongoing
political and economic crises that are exacting a tragic toll
on the population. This Embassy has devoted considerable
effort to documenting the many dimensions of the growing
catastrophe, perhaps most significantly in the area of human
rights where we have collaborated with DRL to produce the
best product possible. This painstaking documentation has
been central to our efforts to effect change here; its
integrity is the foundation inside Zimbabwe and outside of
our credibility with civil society, the media, the
opposition, and elements within the GOZ itself. Lauded by
the Department and outside activists alike, the Embassy's
submission to the Human Rights Report exemplifies the
diligence of our effort and our commitment to hitting hard
and on target. Our recent TIP submission (ref) was assembled
with the same seriousness of purpose. The Embassy has made
no apologies for the GOZ's abysmal record across the board
and has been at the forefront of efforts to impose and to
expand sanctions targeting the perpetrators of both
individual abuses and the crisis generally.

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2. (SBU) Against this backdrop, I have two fundamental
objections to Zimbabwe's inclusion on Tier 3. First, our
extensive contacts with human rights organizations, Churches,
law enforcement authorities, and media on the ground here
have been unable to substantiate that there is any
significant TIP problem here. The existing anecdotal
evidence of which we are aware is either dated and/or
insufficient to offer any basis for quantification (e.g., one
case study of a minor prostitute in the Child and Law
Foundation's August 2003 Zimbabwe report). We do know that
the various guises of TIP are criminalized under Zimbabwean
law. For all their abuses or inaction in political cases,
Zimbabwe's police remain responsive on apolitical crimes,
such as TIP-related activities. When we have engaged the GOZ
on alien smuggling, including in the context of
counter-terrorism efforts, the GOZ has been cooperative.
They have been cooperative in TIP-related outreach efforts by
NGOs, including training workshops. I know that my staff has
been feeding details of all this to country desk and to G/TIP
staff and trust that the submissions will receive full

3. (SBU) I am most concerned about the potentially adverse
effect that a Tier 3 designation would have on our efforts to
address Zimbabwe's other substantial problems -- problems
that are only too well-documented and central to the
country's deep crisis. Zimbabwe is mired in a highly
polarized contest between democratic and authoritarian camps.
The USG plays an important role in shaping the intellectual
debate inside Zimbabwe and, increasingly significantly,
throughout the region over pivotal issues in Zimbabwe's
crisis. The Department has countered shrill GOZ propaganda
and disinformation with strident criticism on specific,
documented problems. The judiciousness of our attacks and
our disassociation from sensationalized, unsubstatiated
allegations against the GOZ are critical to our credibility
with local audiences and with key regional players whose
greater involvement we are encouraging. A Tier 3 sanction
resting on anecdotal evidence and innuendo would play into
the hands of GOZ propagandists and deal a setback to our
credibility with domestic and regional audiences.

4. (SBU) The USG is taking on the GOZ on a full gamut of
human rights issues -- free and fair elections, press
freedoms, politically motivated violence to name a few. The
Embassy fully appreciates TIP's important place in our global
human rights and law enforcement agenda and will continue to
investigate and press TIP-related issues as they come to our
attention and in the context of our overall efforts to
promote an improved human rights environment here. At this
time, however, we are not convinced that Zimbabwe's record to
date on TIP justifies a Tier 3 listing. We are concerned
that a Tier 3 designation could bring into question our
credibility and adversely affect our ability to engage the
GOZ and other regional partners. On the basis of the
evidence we have seen, we believe that we would be best
served by inclusion of Zimbabwe on Tier 2. If we establish
that TIP is a significant problem here we will confront the
GOZ with the evidence and seek action, but until we can
establish the magnitude of any problem, I strongly urge that
Zimbabwe be kept off Tier 3.

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