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Harare, rights groups to resume talks on rights body
Hendricks Chizhanje, ZimOnline
February 27, 2007

HARARE – The Zimbabwe government and local human rights groups are scheduled to meet next month to resume discussions on the setting up of a statutory human rights body in the country. 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Harare office is brokering the talks that appeared to falter last year after non-governmental organisations (NGOs) demanded that President Robert Mugabe’s government first repeals repressive security and media laws before they could back the move to set up the proposed National Human Rights Commission. 

A sarcastic communiqué sent to human rights groups by the National Association of NGOs advising them of the consultative meeting with government appeared to suggest the rights movement’s attitude towards proposed commission has not changed. 

The NGOs association wrote: “The National Human Rights Commission gravy train continues to rumble in 2007 this time with the announcement of another UNDP brokered civil society-Government of Zimbabwe consultative meeting scheduled for March.” 

There was no immediate indication from the association whether human rights groups will attend the March meeting while Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was also not immediately available for comment on the matter.  

But the government has not repealed the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act that human rights groups had said it should scrap from statute books before they could co-operate. 

The government has in recent days also intensified a crackdown against the political opposition, arresting some of its leaders and banning it from holding political meetings and protests. 

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has in the past condemned human rights abuses in Zimbabwe while major Western nations, donor organisations and financial institutions have ostracised Harare for its failure to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law – charges Mugabe and his government deny. - ZimOnline

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