- Last Updated on 02 March 2012
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Together with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairperson, who is also ZIMRIGHTS National Director, Mr. Okay Machisa, we are in Geneva for the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council's 19th session where Zimbabwe's justice minister (Zanu PF) Patrick Chinamasa addressed the High Level Segment yesterday at 11am.
Chinamasa's address came immediately after the Human Rights Council (the Council) held an urgent debate on the escalating grave human rights violations and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic. At the end of the debate the Council adopted a resolution (37 votes in favour, 3 against - China, Cuba, and the Russian Federation voting against, and India, the Philippines and Ecuador abstaining). Angola, Burkina Faso, Kyrgyzstan, and Uganda did not vote. Burkina Faso, after the vote, stated that had it been present it would have voted in favour) condemning the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and expressing concern at the humanitarian situation. The resolution calls for the Council to remain seized of the matter and to take further action, including after the forthcoming interactive dialogue with the commission of inquiry on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The following are highlights of Chinamasa's statement:
1. On the situation in Syria - " In our view, the current situation in Syria requires first and foremost, the efforts of the Syrian people to peacefully resolve their differences without any foreign interference.Secondly, it requires diplomacy, dialogue and international cooperation, taking full cognisance of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria."
2. On Commitment to human rights - " Zimbabwe is and will continue to do its uttermost in the promotion and protection of human rights for the benefit of its people. In this regard, Zimbabwe is currently working towards putting in place a people-driven constitution following extensive outreaches involving all political parties in the Global Political Agreement. Efforts to operationalize the Human Rights Commission are nearing completion."
3. On Marange Diamonds - "Despite opposition from some quarters, the clearance by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme allowing my country to sell its diamonds is just the beginning of a long journey towards the empowerment of our people who had been denied the right of benefitting from one of our many God-given resources."
4. On Invitation to UN Human Rights High Commissioner to visit Zimbabwe - "Last year, we extended an invitation to the High Commissioner to undertake a visit in early February 2012. Unfortunately the High Commissioner was unable to honour our invitation due to other developments and commitments beyond her control, and has since suggested other possible dates. "
5. On Targeted Sanctions - "...Our honest efforts to promote and protect the human rights of our people have been and continue to be impeded by the illegal sanctions imposed on our people by some western countries. These illegal sanctions are a blatant violation of the human rights of our people, especially the right to development."
6. On the International Criminal Court - " the ICC remains, in our view, a glorified Kangaroo Court lacking impartiality."
7. On the rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender Individuals (LGBTI) - "In all constitutional outreaches conducted last year by COPAC throughout Zimbabwe, the people of Zimbabwe vehemently rejected this LGBTI. It is alien to our culture but some countries persist in foisting it on us. LGBTI is unacceptable to us....No amount of sugar coating, rebranding or aid dangling will make this alien value acceptable to the Zimbabwean people."
COMMENT: This hardliner views expressed by Chinamasa - who has - ironically - been removed on the EU sanctions list - are no surprise. He is giving the standard Zanu PF line. It is noteworthy that he did not say anything on elections, giving credence to the view that when Mugabe calls for elections it is largely political grand-standing which must be rejected. The statement reveals that Zanu PF will follow through the process of coming up with a new constitution.
While in Geneva I am contactable on mobile: +41782205815
Regional Information and Advocacy Coordinator Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, South Africa Office
Mobile: +27 73 5211 813