EU wants Security Council action against Zimbabwe

BRUSSELS - The European Union (EU) parliament has urged the UN Security Council to "report on the human rights and political situation in Zimbabwe as a matter of urgency," normally a first step in UN actions against a state. Pressure groups assume possible "crimes against humanity" are being committ

ed in Zimbabwe, which could call for UN sanctions or even intervention.
The EU parliament yesterday endorsed a strongly worded resolution, condemning the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, criticising especially South Africa’s failed approach towards the Zimbabwe crisis and calling for stronger actions against the regime. It calls on EU member states, African governments, China and the UN to intervene.
The resolution condemns the “appalling humanitarian, political, and economic situation in Zimbabwe,” which was continuing to deteriorate, “with the so-called Operation Murambatsvina (drive out rubbish) leaving 700,000 people destitute, with over 4 million Zimbabweans at risk of starvation and surviving on food aid, and political repression continuing apace.”
The member of the European parliament (MEPs) held the “Mugabe dictatorship” stood behind “relentless oppression of the Zimbabwean people.” Zimbabweans were now suffering from an unemployment rate of over 70 percent and the highest inflation rate in the world due to this repression, they added.
Another concern among MEPs was at government efforts to take control of Zimbabwe’s Red Society by forcibly recommending the employment of regime members and supporters. Member states, who also are the Red Cross’ largest donors, were fearful that this move would “herald the use of Red Cross food support as a political weapon,” the resolution said.
The African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) “and, in particular, South Africa” had “failed to take a strong enough stand against the reprehensible Mugabe regime,” the resolution said. The MEPs therefore expressed their “profound disappointment” of these regional actors’ “refusal” to take a more robust stance against the regime’s abuses.
Also China is strongly criticised in the resolution, as the country has become Zimbabwe’s main non-African trade partner and its principal arms supplier. The MEPs deplored that while the UN is appealing for US$ 257 million in humanitarian aid for Zimbabwe, the Mugabe regime had completed a US$ 240 million purchase of twelve K-8 military aircraft from China. Further, the army was to purchase 127 vehicles for senior officers, with another 194 to be bought later on.
The resolution concludes in a list of demands and recommendations to the Harare government, the EU and other international institutions. Harare was urged to provide housing for the victims of Operation Murambatsvina, to take urgent action against the ever-increasing HIV-AIDS pandemic and demands the withdrawal of several repressive bills.
Recognising that the EU’s targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe “have failed to have the desired impact,” the EU parliament urged member states to “rigorously apply existing restrictive measures, including the arms embargo and the travel ban.” China is urged to stop “supplying weaponry and other support to the Mugabe regime,” while SADC is urged to close its regional peacekeeping training centre in Harare.
The most important demand in the resolution, however, was directed to the UN Security Council, which was asked to “report on the human rights and political situation in Zimbabwe as a matter of urgency.” The resolution has been sent to Security Council members and may be picked up by one of the EU’s four current Council members; Denmark, France, Greece or the UK.
Ordering such a report will be seen as the first step towards possible UN actions against Zimbabwe. If the report concludes on “crimes against humanity” or an inability or unwillingness “to protect its own people” against systematic violations of human rights, actions could be sever. Actions usually start with a Security Council demand, followed up with economic and military sanctions and could end in physical intervention.
The EU demand of a Security Council human rights report today was met with applause by the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association (IBA). “We hope that the Security Council will follow the EU’s recommendation. Our long-held view is that crimes against humanity are being committed in Zimbabwe and a Security Council investigation is a crucial first step to ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice,” the IBA’s Mark Ellis said in a statement.
“The protection of human rights requires all in the international community to engage in unremitting efforts to end gross violations of international human rights law wherever they occur, and the EU’s persistence in calls for high-level UN action on Zimbabwe should be supported,” he added.
Fortunately for the Mugabe regime, however, the EU parliament – the only democratically elected institution in the Union- remains a forum with little powers and very restricted influence. Its decisions barely reach the media and population in Europe and are mostly ignored by other EU institutions and member states.- Afrol News

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