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Statement by the 3rd SADC CSO forum on refusal of entry into Zambia of Zimbabwean civil society activists
3rd SADC Civil Society Forum
August 15, 2007

We, the 3rd SADC Civil Society Organizations Forum, meeting in Lusaka, Zambia on the 14 to 16 August 2007, note with deep concern the recent events concerning Zimbabwean civil society activists. On the evening of 14 August 2007, 40 Zimbabwean civil society activists were refused entry into Zambia. No official reasons were given by the Zambian authorities. Two passports belonging to the activists were stamped "prohibited immigrant". The rest of the passports were stamped with exit orders.

Upon return from Zambia, at the Zimbabwean border post of Chirundu, the activists were detained and are currently being interrogated. Given the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe, we fear for the safety and security of the activists while they are in detention. We are concerned that the refusal of entry appears arbitrary and to have been done in bad faith due to the fact that there are no visa requirements for Zimbabwean citizens to enter ZambiA.

Equally disturbing is the fact that this occurred on the eve of the SADC Heads of State Summit and consequently flies in the face of the expressed sentiments of regional integration and cooperation amongst SADC countries. We also believe that this is a deliberate attempt to frustrate the right of civil society to have access and ability to engage SADC Heads of States concerning the issue of Zimbabwe.

We therefore call upon:

  • The Government of Zimbabwe to immediately release the civil society activists currently detained at Chirundu border post.
  • The Government of Zambia to immediately permit entry into Zambia to the civil society activists to enable them to attend the 3rd SADC CSO Forum and People's Summit.
  • The SADC Heads of States to investigate the events and make a public statement concerning the outcome of their investigations, in the interests of transparency and commitment to good governance in the SADC region.

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