By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
19 February 2014
An organisation specialising in helping torture victims has led the chorus of outrage at the EU’s move to suspend the restrictive measures on members of President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle.
The Mike Campbell Foundation says it is ‘alarmed’ that the EU has suspended ‘targeted sanctions’ on eight of Mugabe’s close allies because the ZANU PF government is still abusing people’s rights.
The EU this week suspended the targeted sanctions against these ZANU PF officials, but kept the restrictive measures on President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace. Among those on whom the targeted sanctions were suspended are army generals and senior intelligence officers, including the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, and Zimbabwe’s Intelligence Chief and Chief of Police.
Ben Freeth, who is the executive director at the Mike Campbell Foundation, said the EU is ‘condoning the culture of impunity’ in Zimbabwe by allowing members of Mugabe’s retinue to move freely within Europe. He added: ‘For us in Zimbabwe it is a terrible betrayal for the principles that Europe has in the past tried to uphold. Things are changing in Europe, quite clearly, and this is alarming for us and it must be alarming for the people in Europe as well.’
Ahead of the suspension of the restrictive measures the foundation implored the EU to decide against this week’s move. In a report detailing cases of human rights violations the foundation said it would be ‘utterly terrible’ for the EU to grant Mugabe’s allies the right to conduct business in Europe.
The report gave a detailed account of how the ZANU PF government has relied on repression and torture since 2000. It lists a series of abuses around the farm invasions and the 2002 and 2008 elections. Also detailed in the report is the 2005 Murambatasvina campaign, a government exercise which saw the deliberate destruction of urban voters’s shacks. The campaign, which the government claimed was a cleanup exercise, left nearly a million people homeless. The report also touches on corruption, including the current salary scams in parastatals.
Two months ago the foundation jointly submitted fresh evidence of torture in a case in which the organization, together with AfriForum, want the South African authorities to investigate crimes against humanity in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Vigil this week also expressed its horror at the EU’s move. The Vigil, which has led the anti-Mugabe campaigns in the UK, said the EU has ‘betrayed’ the people of Zimbabwe.
But an EU delegation currently in the country, on Wednesday said the move was taken as a step towards the normalisation of relations with Zimbabwe. They insisted the targeted sanctions had not been removed, but had been suspended, meaning they could be re-imposed at any time. They also said the restrictive measures on Mugabe and his wife would only be removed when clear reforms were visible.
Geoffrey Van Orden is a member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the European Parliament ‘Friends of Zimbabwe’ group. He has long spearheaded the Parliament’s campaign for freedom and democratic change in Zimbabwe. Commenting on the suspension of the restrictive measures he said while there has been ‘some movement in the right direction in the past year’ there were still incidents of human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
In a statement Van Orden said real progress in Zimbabwe will be achieved only when Mugabe and his allies are out of power. He emphasised that there were never targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe, but only against Mugabe and his inner circle.
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