Zimbabwe brushes off Geneva criticism over human rights

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Reactions are flowing in to Zimbabwe’s presentation Monday 10 October to the UN Human Rights Commission, part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) that takes place for each country every four years. Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinawasa presented a “glowing picture” according to Zimbabwe’s The Independent, but critics have had little patience with the report.

The Zimbabwe newspaper, in an editorial, said that “Instead of pointing out areas of progress and problems to paint a balanced picture of the situation, Chinamasa used sanctions as a pretext to exonerate government from human rights abuses and went for the jugular against Western countries. That made constructive dialogue impossible and predictably the report was divisive.” It adds that the result was a session divided mainly along political lines.

SW Radio Africa, in allAfrica, pointed out that the government’s rosy picture is sharply at odds with those from a number of civic society groups that also attended the Geneva review, notably in the area of radio licenses, where the government says progress has been made and others say it isn’t so.

The US Mission in Geneva commended Zimbabwe on progress in some areas but pointed out a number of continuing problems, including the fact that a new human rights commission is not yet up and running. It made four recommendations, including improvements and greater transparency in diamond mining.

Zimbabwe’s government confirmed this week that it does not intend to lift its often-criticized AIPPA (Access to Information and Privacy Protection Act), which has been heavily criticized within and outside the country as limiting human rights.