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civil society groups call for continued Commonwealth suspension
Society Consultation on Zimbabwe
September 18, 2003
the statement to the Commonwealth
in the African Civil Society Consultation on Zimbabwe, a meeting
of civil society groups from Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia,
Malawi, Namibia and Kenya that was held in Gaborone, Botswana, on
August 5 and 6, 2003, this week renewed their call for the continued
suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth. In a statement issued
in advance of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meeting,
which will take place in New York on September 27, the participants
in the Botswana Consultation condemned the human rights and humanitarian
crisis in Zimbabwe and demanded that Zimbabwe remain suspended from
the Commonwealth until its government takes concrete steps to bring
an end to this crisis.
in the African Civil Society Consultation on Zimbabwe represent
over thirty civil society groups from Zimbabwe, Botswana, South
Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia and Kenya. Following a two-day meeting
held in Botswana, on August 5 and 6, 2003, they issued a Concluding
Statement, condemning the human rights and humanitarian crisis in
Zimbabwe and calling for national, regional and international action
to address this crisis.
In their statement
addressed to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the Commonwealth
Heads of State and Government, the participants in the Botswana
Consultation reiterated their condemnation of the situation in Zimbabwe
and called upon the Commonwealth to continue its suspension of Zimbabwe.
They cited widespread violations of international human rights standards,
in contravention of the principles contained in the Harare Declaration
of 1991 and the recommendations of the Commonwealth Observer Group,
issued on March 15, 2002, in support of their call. Following the
recommendations of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Zimbabwe was
suspended from the Commonwealth on March 19, 2002.
In their statement,
the participants stated that "violations of basic human rights
are endemic throughout [Zimbabwe], including torture, denial of
food, arbitrary detention, attacks on human rights defenders, muzzling
of the independent press, systematic violence against women and
the forceful indoctrination and abuse of youth through a government
youth training programme." In addition, they noted that "rumours
of political talks between the government and opposition parties
are not sufficient to justify the lifting of Zimbabwe's suspension,
but rather real improvements in the human rights situation in the
country must be demonstrated."
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