Zimbabwe: UNHCR chief biased, insulting

2011-03-02 20:05

Geneva - Zimbabwe on Wednesday accused United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay of being biased against the country and suggested she was a pawn of Western efforts to undermine President Robert Mugabe.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a long time Mugabe loyalist, launched the attack against Pillay, a South African former judge at the international criminal court, after she criticised arrests in Zimbabwe last week.

"We take great exception to the biased, mischievous and partisan stance that the person of the High Commissioner has taken over the years with respect to our country," Chinamasa told the UN Human Rights Council.

Zimbabwe was determined "to ensure that the [Pillay] office is immunised from being used as a pawn in the wider political game," he declared.

Like many other African and Asian countries, many of them members of the 47-member rights council, Zimbabwe has been increasingly angered at Pillay's outspoken defence of the right to free speech around the world.

But the long-ruling Mugabe and close aides are also believed to be alarmed at the decision last Friday by the rights body, of which Zimbabwe is not currently a member, to ask the UN General Assembly to suspend Libya's membership.

The dominant non-aligned movement (NAM) bloc in the council normally shields other developing countries from any serious criticism and only three months ago hailed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libya as a model of human rights observance.


Zimbabwe itself comes up for a review of its rights record in the body later this year.

Diplomats from less authoritarian members of the bloc say Zimbabwe and some other NAM members fear the action against Libya - confirmed in the General Assembly on Tuesday - could be a precedent for action against them.

In a statement on Monday, Pillay said the arrests last week of 46 people attending a discussion meeting in Harare on recent events in Egypt and Tunisia - where popular protests have led to the ousting of presidents - were illegal.

"These arrests appear to be part of a growing crackdown on civil society and members of the political opposition, and are a clear sign that the establishment of a consolidated democracy in Zimbabwe is still very far from assured," she said.

Chinamasa said the detainees were held for "organising activities aimed at subverting a lawful government."

Pillay's comments were "tantamount to interference in the judicial process and demonstrate a contempt for our institutions".

  • Ed - 2011-03-02 20:18

    What's wrong with undermining Mugabe? What use is he to us in these times of change?

  • Judith - 2011-03-02 20:26

    Go Pillay go! It is time that the ZANU-PF got the message

  • Deon - 2011-03-02 20:43

    UNHCR vs UNHRC ????????????????

      lldoidge - 2011-03-02 21:16

      United Nations Human Rights Commission. And they have just ditched Gadaffi! How he was on that in the first place is a mystery. Even Mugabe managed to get onto that commission. LOL

  • Bonzo - 2011-03-03 23:57

    Hi flipping time that universal ethics get taken seriously. UNHRC was expected to do the right thing and promote postcolonial independence. Now a whole basket of these developmental states seem to want special pleading to get away with the abuse of human rights. Go for it, Navi Pillay!

  • Johan - 2012-05-20 20:23

    Nothing will happen to this dictator once again, the so called hero while the majority of his people is suffering. And still more than half the country will vote for him. To understand the african culture and the way some of the people think is just something out of the ordinary..

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