‘UN experts jumped the gun’
Government has dismissed a joint statement by five United Nations (UN) human rights experts, which concluded that three MDC-Alliance youth leaders were abducted as “premature and unreasonable” since investigations to get to the bottom of the matter are still ongoing.
In response to allegations by the five United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Special Procedures mandate holders who concluded that Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marowa had been tortured and subjected to degrading treatment, the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Pearson Chigidi said the “promotion and protection of human rights of all Zimbabweans was a primary responsibility of the Government of Zimbabwe working with national institutions, civil society and the people themselves”, and therefore the Government cannot abduct its own citizens.
“Generally, the Government of Zimbabwe expresses its concern that the five special procedures mandate holders fell short of the standards that they are expected to comply with in their work and failed to uphold their moral authority and credibility.
“Their joint communication and news release are punctuated by subjective language and are over prescriptive on matters still under investigation. Domestic remedies have not been exhausted in this matter, so it was unreasonable and premature for the five special procedures mandate holders to involve themselves at this stage,” he said.
Early this month, five UN human rights experts (special procedures mandate holders) called on Zimbabwean authorities to immediately put an end to the reported pattern of torture and disappearances, and this was not just before investigations had been carried out but also based on hearsay.
Ambassador Chigidi said the fact that Zimbabwe has in the past opened the doors for special procedures mechanisms is testimony that the Second Republic has nothing to hide and values constructive and honest engagement.
“Unfortunately in the case at hand, instead of engaging all the relevant stakeholders, including the investigating authorities of the State, the five special procedures mandate holders rushed to draw conclusions after hearing only from one side, that is the alleged victims,” read the response in part.
So far investigators into the alleged abduction of the MDC Alliance trio of Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marowa have poked holes into their case.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe early this month indicated that a multi-agency investigation that is seeking to establish whether the alleged kidnappings did occur and to identify the alleged perpetrators, whether purporting to act on behalf of Government or other forces and bring them to justice is still ongoing.
And thus raising concerns with the manner in which the five special procedures mandate holders came to a conclusion on the alleged abduction of the three MDC-Alliance officials, Ambassador Chigidi said they disregarded their own code of conduct as detailed in Article 6 (a) of the code of conduct for special procedures mandate holders, which states that they should “always seek to establish the facts, based on objective, reliable information emanating from relevant credible sources, that they have duly cross-checked to the best extent possible”.
“Our expectation is that the special procedures mandate holders should discharge their mandates with due respect to the time-honoured and universally accepted principles of independence, transparency, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity”.
In their statement, they boldly stated that the charges against the three MDC- Alliance activists should be dropped in a prescriptive stance that also overreaches their mandate and ignores the fact that authorities in Zimbabwe are investigating the alleged abduction.
While addressing the media, Minister Kazembe said the ongoing investigations into the alleged abduction cannot be used to detract authorities from a separate investigation and due process currently underway concerning the trio’s alleged participation in an illegal demonstration in Warren Park, Harare, on May 13.
Authorities have also raised concern with the pattern of the numerous cases of so-called abductions, which are usually scripted to coincide with major regional and international events.
For instance, the alleged abduction of the three MDC Alliance officials coincided with the Sadc Troika Summit that was attended by regional leaders.
In September last year, just before the UN General Assembly and also when a high-ranking delegation was visiting Zimbabwe to assess the human rights situation, Dr Peter Magombeyi, a leader of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) was also allegedly abducted in yet another case that exposed machinations to soil the image of the Second Republic.
With the five Special Procedures mandate holders expressing a desire to visit Zimbabwe again, Ambassador Chigidi said they should come with an open mind and conduct proper and full investigations when granted such visits.