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NGOs urge Berenger to block Bill
Phiri, The Zimbabwe Independent
September 24, 2004
A NETWORK of
human rights non-governmental organisations (NGO) in Malawi has
urged Mauritian Prime Minister and current Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) chairman, Paul Berenger, to help block Zimbabwe's
proposed NGO Bill.
The Human Rights
Consultative Committee (HRCC) last week wrote to Berenger, who became
Sadc chairman last month, seeking his intervention on the issue.
The group also appealed to the United Nations, the African Union
and Sadc leaders to intervene to stop the repressive Bill.
committee understands that the objective of the proposed new law
is, according to the government of Zimbabwe, to 'provide an enabling
environment for the operations and regulation of NGOs' in Zimbabwe,"
the HRCC said in a petition.
is however concerned that the proposed law, in its application,
will have the effect of criminalising the activities of civil society
organisations, especially those working in the field of human rights
and good governance, thereby making liable to prosecution individuals
belonging to organisations engaged in the legitimate and peaceful
activities of promoting human rights."
copied to President Robert Mugabe, chief secretary to Malawian President
Bingu wa Mutarika, Bright Masaka, and the South African high commissioner
to Malawi, Nthutang Seleka, says the HRCC is strongly opposed to
NGO law imposes restrictive registration formalities for human rights
NGOs and denies them access to foreign financial assistance. The
law will make it mandatory for all NGOs to be registered with the
proposed NGO Council of Zimbabwe, a government-run body. Individual
members who breach the regulations will be liable to criminal prosecution.
The HRCC warned
Mugabe to stop passage of stringent laws that target people and
appeals to the Zimbabwean government to suspend the proposed promulgation
of the NGO law until a comprehensive review has been done, following
wider consultations amongst all sections of the Zimbabwean society,
including with the NGO community."
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