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Zimbabwe criticized for planning restrictions on travel
August 10, 2005
rights advocates blasted the government's proposed constitutional
amendments that would, among other things, curtail the right of
people to travel within the country and abroad. The government says
the limit on travel is in public interest.
Mugabe's government says the constitutional amendment to restrict
peoples' movements is a measure needed to combat international terrorism
and protect the country's national interests.
But to human
rights organizations, which have submitted their comments on the
proposals, the measure violates a basic human right guaranteed in
the 1980 constitution. They say there is no definition of "national
interest" in the government proposal, and that there are many effective
antiterrorism laws already in place.
to restricting travel, the government's proposed constitutional
amendments also include changes that would affect property rights
and, in effect, create a second legislature made up of appointed,
not elected members.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
the restriction on travel could be used against political opponents
or activists to prevent them from speaking out against President
Mugabe's policies at international forums.
legal secretary for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
called the proposed travel restrictions a "grave and sinister assault"
on another fundamental human right. He said it was intended to prevent
people from leaving the country to tell the world what was going
on in Zimbabwe.
Patrick Chinamasa, who drafted the constitutional amendments, has
said he will not comment until he presents the legislation to parliament
changes can be adopted by a two-third majority in the legislature.
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF, which won a majority of the seats in
the last parliamentary election, can muster the two-third majority
with the help of the 30 legislators appointed by Mr. Mugabe.
rules have been changed to speed up the adoption of new laws. Political
observers say the constitutional amendments could be enacted within
days under the new fast-track procedure.
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