The Vigil is appreciative of your consistent work for Zimbabwe and shares your relief that the sanctions have been largely kept in place. But we are puzzled by remarks by the EU’s Foreign Affairs representative, Baroness Ashton.
She said in a press release of 17th February that the EU ‘welcomes progress made towards the creation of a conducive environment for the holding of free, fair, peaceful and transparent elections’ . . . she went on to speak of ‘progress in the implementation of the GPA’ and further commented ‘the overall situation in Zimbabwe has improved’.
It is now three years since the Government of National Unity was formed. As far as the Vigil can see there was some early progress – difficult and slow – but there has been none at all in the past year. In fact, there is strong evidence that the situation has deteriorated in the year that Baroness Ashton is speaking of.
Also the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum states in their latest email: ‘Zimbabwe is mentioned in the Annual Report of Frontline Defenders, as being amongst a number of countries that have witnessed an increase in attacks on human rights defenders (HRDs) in their homes or offices and intimidation of HRDs by the judicial authorities.’
We would be grateful if you could use your position in the European Parliament to ask Baroness Ashton where she gets her contrary information from because we would like to share this good news. But our suspicion is that she is merely ill-informed or is driven by another agenda.
One further observation: the Vigil believes the easing of the targeted measures will not lead to any progress in Zimbabwe. We believe that even the total lifting of the measures would not persuade Zanu (PF) to allow free and fair elections. They would simply invent some other excuse for clinging to power.”
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