Visit of a UN rapporteur to expose the damage caused by sanctions

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Sunday mail

Debra Matabvu

The visit next week by a United Nations special rapporteur to investigate the impact of Western sanctions on Zimbabwe will help expose the full extent of how the embargo is a human rights violation , said a cabinet minister.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Ms. Alena Douhan, will be in the country from October 18 to 28 at the invitation of the government.

In an interview, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi said Ms. Douhan’s visit will help highlight how the rights of Zimbabwean citizens have been violated for more than two decades by the illegal sanctions regime. .

He said that while the UN constantly calls for respect for human rights in Zimbabwe, it turns a blind eye to the rights of Zimbabweans who are violated by the punitive measures.

“Our position from the start has always been that sanctions are a violation of human rights,” Minister Ziyambi said.

“Thus, the government invited the rapporteur to assess the effects of sanctions on ordinary people.

“To show them that even though they’re supposed to be targeted, they have an effect on the base and on ordinary people.

“We want the United Nations to understand that although they say the sanctions are targeted, they are in fact targeting businesses and state-owned entities, thus contributing to our economic problems. “

He said the sanctions targeted companies such as the country’s only producer of phosphate fertilizers and aluminum sulphate for drinking water treatment, Zimphos, which has led to water and fertilizer shortages. .

“The lives of people in rural areas are affected, the agricultural sector is affected.

“By targeting ZISCO for example, you want to make sure that the country has no foreign currency and that our balance of payments will be badly affected and we will end up with shortages of goods.

“It has a ripple effect. So you can see that because of the sanctions, our agricultural sector has been affected. Most of the industries were closed and ordinary people began to suffer.

Minister Ziyambi said the government wanted the UN to recognize that it ignored the violation of the rights of local people.

“While they campaign for respect for other rights, they turn a blind eye to the need to uphold the rights of ordinary citizens.

“The right to food, education and health.

“Our healthcare industry is not what it was when we didn’t have sanctions.”

The government, he added, wants the UN to put pressure on the West to remove the sanctions.

“We therefore want the rapporteur to come to understand that the sanctions are a violation of the rights of ordinary people.

“They are illegal, so they should put pressure on those who imposed sanctions as a tool of regime change, to remove them. “

Zimbabwe has been under US sanctions since 2001 while the European Union (EU) also introduced its own set of punitive measures in February 2002.

A study commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade estimates that the country could have lost up to $ 42 billion in revenue over the past 20 years due to the sanctions.

A separate study commissioned by the Ministry of Higher Education and Higher Education, Science and Technological Development in 2017, isolated as many as 13 different socio-economic spheres that were hampered by the embargo.

A 600-page report produced after two years of research by a team of academics from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) concluded that the sanctions have had an impact on all facets of the economy ranging from trade and finance , from manufacturing, tourism, agriculture to human capital development and migration. among others.

The Special Rapporteur and her team will gather information and hold a series of meetings with representatives of government, civil society organizations and the private sector.

A report will then be presented to the UN Human Rights Council at its 51st session in September 2022.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has since solicited contributions from various stakeholders to inform the thematic and geographic focus.

“The purpose of the mission is to examine, in a spirit of cooperation and dialogue, whether and to what extent the adoption, maintenance or application of unilateral sanctions hamper the full realization of the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. human rights. and other international human rights instruments, in particular the right of individuals and peoples to development.

In 2019, Sadc leaders declared October 25 a day of solidarity with Harare against sanctions at the 38th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Tanzania.

Regional countries are expected to organize a series of events to mark the day in their respective countries.

At the United Nations General Assembly held last month, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe, saying they “cripple Zimbabwe and its economy”.

His Botswana counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi echoed the call.


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