UN rights chief begins meetings in Zimbabwe
Posted Monday, May 21 2012 at 18:56
Zimbabwe has said it had nothing to hide in terms of human rights abuses as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Human Rights Navi Pillay begins a week-long visit.
Ms Pillay arrived in Harare on Sunday at the invitation of President Robert Mugabe’s four year old coalition government.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa who was the first to meet the former South African High Court judge said she was initially invited last year but could not make the trip.
“We showed our commitment by extending another invitation in February and we are happy she has accepted,” he said.
“We are happy we will be able to host her because we have nothing to hide in terms of human rights issues.
“We are not worried about what our detractors will say.”
State media on Monday claimed that society groups had been given funds by Western governments to paint a bad picture of Zimbabwe’s human rights situation.
President Mugabe and his close associates were slapped with a travel ban and had their assets frozen a decade ago over alleged human rights violations.
But the veteran ruler says claims of human rights abuses are part of a campaign to push him out of power.
Ms Pillay will meet President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, political leaders and human rights groups.
She will also visit the controversial Marange diamond fields where security forces were accused of using excessive force to rid the area of illegal miners.
Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party says members of the security forces and activists from President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party linked to the 2008 political violence are yet to be brought to justice.
“Many of our members were murdered during the 2008 sham presidential election and no-one has been charged for the murders,” said Mr Promise Mkhwananzi, the MDC youth leader.
In 2005, the UN dispatched a special envoy after President Mugabe’s government launched a programme to clear slums, displacing 700,000 people.
The envoy irked Zanu PF after she criticised the programme and went out of her way to meet the victims.
Four years later, UN torture expert Mr Manfred Nowak was barred from entering Zimbabwe to conduct investigations.