Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


UN Expert Concerned Over Zimbawe Torture Reports

UN Expert Concerned Over Zimbawe Torture Reports

New York, Oct 29 2009 1:10PM

The United Nations independent expert on torture today voiced concern over reports of ill treatment in Zimbabwe, 24 hours after his invitation to visit the country was suddenly revoked.

“I deeply regret that the Government has deprived me of the possibility to objectively assess the situation of torture and ill-treatment through gathering on the spot evidence from all available sources, including governmental and non-governmental sources, victims and witnesses, as well as visits to various places of detention,” Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, said.

“Each hour is critical,” he emphasized.

Earlier this year, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, and President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party agreed to form a Government of National Unity, following months of tensions after disputed presidential elections.

Allegations that MDC supporters and human rights defenders have been arrested, harassed and intimidated in recent days underscore the urgent need for an objective fact-finding mission by an independent UN expert, Mr. Nowak has stressed.

On 1 October, he was invited by the Zimbabwean Government to conduct a fact-finding mission from 28 October to 4 November.

While in transit in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday, he was informed that Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister had decided on Monday to postpone his visit, citing consultations between the Government and the South African Development Community (SADC).

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

But while waiting for his flight on to Zimbabwe, Mr. Nowak received a later dated 27 October that Mr. Tsvangirai, who serves as Prime Minister, wished to meet him in his office in the capital, Harare, today.

Consequently, the Rapporteur flew to Harare last night, but upon arrival, he was met by the head of airport immigration, who said that despite his valid visa, his entry into the country had not been cleared by the Foreign Minister.

After spending the night at the airport, he was sent back on the first flight to Johannesburg this morning, in spite of efforts by the UN, the Prime Minister and other authorities to facilitate his entry into the country.

“A high-level delegation sent by the Prime Minister to go to the airport was even denied access and told that the Special Rapporteur was no longer held at the airport,” according to a press release issued by the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Mr. Nowak said that he strongly protests his treatment, urging the Government to fully investigate the incident and identify who is responsible for denying his access to Zimbabwe.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.