THE government this week blocked a visit by a delegation from the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in a move likely to further galvanise international opinion against Harare.
President Mugabe’s government which stands accused of wanton human rights abuses also ignored the United Nations International Day Against Torture which was commemorated yesterday.
The IPU delegation was expected to interview MPs and government officials on the on-going country-wide human rights violations in a mission that had been timed to start on Sunday and end yesterday. The IPU is an international organisation of parliaments of sovereign states.
MDC MP for Harare North, Trudy Stevenson, yesterday said Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge failed to approve the visit thereby scuttling the arrangement to which both the Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa, and the Speaker of Parliament, Emerson Mnangagwa, had agreed.
“Mnangagwa actually came back to us at the last minute to say the IPU needed the approval of the Minister of Foreign Affairs,” Stevenson said. The IPU delegation was due to interview the MPs, their families and lawyers on the human rights abuses which have seen opposition MPs arrested and tortured by law enforcement agents.
Already the IPU has identified 19 MPs from the MDC who have either been arrested on trumped up charges, tortured or assaulted by state agents and the Zanu PF militia.
According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum statistics for the year ended December 2002 show there were 1 061 cases of torture, 227 abductions, 121 unlawful arrests and 111 unlawful detentions.
According to correspondence between Stevenson and the IPU officer in charge of human rights, the delegation could now come at the end of July when parliament is sitting.
“You may rest assured that we will make every effort for the mission to take place,” said Ingeborg Schwarz of the IPU’s Standing Committee on Human Rights for Parliamentarians
“We will propose new dates, most probably either the week 28 July to August 1 or the week 4 to 8 August when parliament is sitting, and seek the agreement of the authorities to either of these dates.”
In May 2003 Parliamentarians for Global Action asked the government to adhere to the requirements of international law and asked Zimbabwe to ratify the International Criminal Court.