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to the Commonwealth
Society Consultation on Zimbabwe
September 18, 2003
the press statement
in the African Civil Society Consultation on Zimbabwe, who met in
Gaborone, Botswana, on August 5 and 6, 2003, today call upon the
Commonwealth states to ensure the continued suspension of Zimbabwe
from the Commonwealth. Zimbabwe should remain suspended from this
institution until it complies fully with the principles contained
in the Harare Declaration of 1991 and takes concrete steps to restore
the rule of law, to respect human rights and to hold perpetrators
of human rights violations accountable.
We, the participants
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, we issued a Concluding
Statement, condemning the human rights and humanitarian crisis in
Zimbabwe and calling for urgent action to address this crisis.
In light of
the upcoming meeting of Commonwealth Heads of State and Government,
to be held in Nigeria in December 2003, we reiterate our condemnation
of the situation in Zimbabwe and call upon the Commonwealth to continue
its suspension of Zimbabwe.
of international human rights standards are being committed in Zimbabwe
and until these violations are ended, Zimbabwe remains in contravention
of the principles contained in the Harare Declaration of 1991. Moreover,
Zimbabwe has failed to comply with the recommendations of the Commonwealth
Observer Group, issued on March 15, 2002. Following the recommendations
of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Zimbabwe was suspended from
the Commonwealth on March 19, 2002. Since that time, the government
of Zimbabwe has not made any significant efforts to improve the
human rights situation or to come into compliance with the Harare
Declaration and Commonwealth Observer Group recommendations.
situation in Zimbabwe has steadily deteriorated. Violations of basic
human rights are endemic throughout the country, 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.
urge the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, meeting in New York
on September 27, to examine the situation in Zimbabwe and recommend
that Zimbabwe remain suspended from the Commonwealth until such
time as the government brings an end to the human rights and humanitarian
crisis and restores the rule of law. 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
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