Top UN rights official voices concern over deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe
“The scale of documented cases of rights abuses against members of opposition groups, the independent media and human rights organizations is alarming,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said in a statement issued in Geneva. “Most recently, bills have been passed to further restrict political activity and participation, while legislation curbing freedom of expression is being considered. There is a real human rights crisis in Zimbabwe and action must be taken now, especially as elections are scheduled for March.”
The High Commissioner said recent human rights breaches were aggravated by a climate of impunity that had become evident in the country, particularly since attacks against the independent judiciary have intensified.
“I have noted President Robert Mugabe’s pledge at the recent Southern Africa Development Community Summit that the March elections would be free and fair and be subject to international monitoring,” Mrs. Robinson said. “But real democracy requires full respect for human rights immediately. My Office stands ready to offer Zimbabwe its support in moving towards that objective.”