Zimbabwe's Mugabe: Lift sanctions, UN's Navi Pillay urges


Navi Pillay said she hoped there would be ''no violence in future elections''

Western nations should lift sanctions on Zimbabwe and its President Robert Mugabe, says the UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay.

Speaking on her first visit to the country, Ms Pillay argued that the sanctions are hurting the poor.

She also urged Zimbabwe to pass reforms to avoid violence in the next election which is expected within a year.

The European Union has already lifted some sanctions but restrictions on Mr Mugabe and his close aides remain.

The president and more than 100 others are still affected by the freezing of assets and travel bans in European countries.

Britain, the former colonial power, has long argued that the measures do not affect the poor but Ms Pillay is now questioning this, and would like sanctions suspended "at least until the conduct of the elections and related reforms are clear... for people to entirely focus on economic issues that need to be addressed".

Mr Mugabe has long blamed his country's economic woes on the sanctions.


Ms Pillay, from South Africa, said she had not heard a single Zimbabwean inside the country speak in favour of maintaining the restrictions.

Start Quote

There should never be impunity for serious crimes, and justice is essential if peace and stability are to endure”

End Quote Navi Pillay

"There seems little doubt that the existence of the sanctions regimes has, at the very least, acted as a serious disincentive to overseas banks and investors.

"It is also likely that the stigma of sanctions has limited certain imports and exports. Taken together, these and other unintended side-effects will in turn inevitably have had a negative impact on the economy at large, with possibly quite serious ramifications for the country's poorest and most vulnerable populations," she said.

Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a close ally of Mr Mugabe, welcomed Ms Pillay's call but said the sanctions should be removed "unconditionally".

"We do not want any talk about suspension of sanctions, they have to be lifted unconditionally because in the first instance they are illegal," he told journalists shortly after the human rights chief spoke.

The EU tightened sanctions after the 2008 election when Mr Mugabe's supporters were accused of killing, beating and torturing hundreds of people.

Since then Mr Mugabe has had to share power with his rivals, but there is a political deadlock and reforms to the security forces have stalled.

'Swept under the carpet'

Earlier this year the campaign group Human Rights Watch said sanctions should remain "until Zimbabwe carries out concrete human rights and institutional reforms".

Over the past week Ms Pillay met Mr Mugabe and his long-time opponent, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who joined a unity government in 2009.

In her speech in Harare she also brought up past human rights violations and warned that "devastating large-scale killings and other violations in Matabeleland and Midlands in the 1980s, or the 2008 election violence should [not] be swept under the carpet".

She made it clear that: "There should never be impunity for serious crimes, and justice is essential if peace and stability are to endure".

She said she had urged leaders to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Committee or a Commission of Inquiry to look at major human rights violations that took place some time ago.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    it seems as if UN dosent care about thousands of children out there suffering, starving and dying daily. If they say they are imposing sanctions on ZIMBABWE because of their relations with Zanu PF, that is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard, Mugabe lives a luxurious life out there imposing sanctions is not going to affect him in any way, UN is just basically wearing the devil`s shoes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    @ 48.Athame57

    Who gave you or your Ian Smith your stupid idea that the people of Zimbabwe, the people of Africa or Black people would like to be rule by white people?

    Change leadership in Zimbabwe according to race. Are you cracked-head? Do you change leadership according to race in America or Britain. Zimbabwe is an African country and a Black people land. How can you talk of changing role

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    @ 48.Athame57

    Of course, Ian Smith is dead, we know that. Following your and his line of thinking which you indicated at the cite. You are reffering to history. Not current politics in Africa. Beyond your lack of knowledge of Africa Ian Smith was not an African nor Whites who are in any parts of Africa, Besides, How many Black Africans in Britain and changing leadership role in Britain?

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    @ 47. Olyec Oloyi
    'Zimbabwe is an African land. Zimbabwe is for the people of Zimbabwe not whites. Zimbabwe will and cannot be white. Robert Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe not David Cameron or Ian Smith.'
    Well...Ian is dead now, but he said some things some people will find interesting .... http://www.rhodesia.nl/Smith.html

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Zimbabwe is an African land. Zimbabwe is for the people of Zimbabwe not whites. Zimbabwe will and cannot be white. Robert Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe not David Cameron or Ian Smith. You can keep your sanctions in the paper and we will keep our African beloved Zimbabwe in the land. Viva Zimbabwe, Viva all of us Africa in solidarity with you. Hurah Africa. Forget the West. Work hard for Afri

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    We woke up and the world is now also waking up...Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans and it shall be managed or mismanaged by Zimbabwean. Its not gonna change and even MDC now knows this so even if MDC wins any election they are going to maintain the status quo. Gone are the days guys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Enough of this western propaganda. I go to Zim often, its the ordinary person who has suffered and yet the West propaganda machine continues to stick to its ridiculous stories. The blatant western lies over the years are the ones that have turned me, and a number like me, more resolutely anti-MDC and other puppets in Zim. This is one vote MDC will not be getting - damn sellouts!

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Most of the comments here supporting sanctions are mostly Western. And they are all stupid anyway. Don't worry and never mind what the West says about any country in Africa.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Let's see how the upcoming elections go. If they can run free and fair elections this time round, then we will consider lifting the sanctions. But if we see the same shenanigans as last time. And the sanctions stay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    One has to query the wisdom of the UN sending a South African to investigate the situation in Zimbabwe, regardless of the post Ms Pillay holds. Neither she, nor any politically connected South African, can claim to be impartial; the UN needs to apply the legal principle of “nemo index in sua cuasa.” Perhaps Ms Pillay has share too many beetroots and garlic with Mbeki?

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    @ 29. ZimPatriot...
    I'd be suspicious of 'indigenisation programs'...sounds like mobs of war veterans, many of whom are incredibly young, taking over places.
    I'd never trust a man who was a friend of Nicholas van Hoogstraten just for a start, you are the company you keep. They fell out of course, but crooks always do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    How on earth did this Pillay person get the job of UN high commissioner for human rights?

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Another statement of convenience in the name of the people. How will lifting the sanction "unhurt" the people? The assumption is that Mugabe runs a caring regime but is hamstrung by the sanctions. This is a self-indictment for which those who imposed the sanction should be taken to the Hague. As a Liberian I know the suffering people will feel let down that the oppressor is being rewarded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Who is the most benign dictator, Robert Mugabe or Bashar al Assad? Too bad we can't dig up the graves of their victims and let them decide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    The sanctions will be consigned to history when the man responsible for them no longer exists.
    Any savvy UN Diplomat should be capable of working that out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    There's goes the UN again, giving aid and comfort to another petty dictator. Until they figure out a perfect way to punish regimes like Mugabe, the existing sanctions should remain. There is no better idea at the moment and lifting all punitive measures is not an option.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Lift the sanctions on all the individuals concerned. ZANU-PF are finished anyway. The conditions are that all the population in the diaspora are allowed to vote. Secondly, forget about the Zimbabwe voters role. It is a scam. Revert to the 1980 system of voting. Purple dye painted on voters fingers/infra red light to detect punters coming back a second time. International observers to attend.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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