Zimbabwe escapes AU human rights scrutiny

Harare- Zimbabwe (PANA) -- Zimbabwe said Tuesday it had escaped scrutiny of its human rights record at the African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia after a draft report compiled by a commission of the continental body was thrown out on grounds it was drafted irregularly.
The African Human Rights Commission, an arm of the AU, had compiled a damning report on Zimbabwe's human rights record, alleging widespread violations, and had planned to table this at the ongoing summit.
Opposition groups and international human rights groups routinely accuse authorities in Harare of suppressing democracy, and human rights for political reasons, charges the government in Harare denies.
In the report, compiled after a visit to Harare, the Human Rights Commission had collaborated the allegations frequently made by Zimbabwean opposition parties and international human rights groups.
However, the AU Executive Council threw out the charges and accused the Commission of not affording the Zimbabwe government a chance to defend itself before the report was compiled.
"The Council of Ministers decided that the commission had not solicited the response of the member state concerned.
It said in future the commission must submit reports with the response of the member states concerned," Zimbabwe's foreign minister, Stan Mudenge said.
"Council also recommended that the Heads of State should not publish the report until the commission gets Zimbabwe's response.
It was not properly presented," he said.
The AU Council of Ministers also rejected similar allegations the Human Rights Commission had levelled against DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria on the same grounds.

06 july 2004 12:43:00

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