11 September 2005

Zimbabwe Backtracks On ACHPR Session

ZIMBABWE has backtracked on its earlier offer to host the 38th session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR), The Standard understands.

Zimbabwe's delegates at the last session of ACHPR made a request to host the 38th session but did not follow up with a formal request in writing.

Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said the government had changed its position, leaving Gambia to host the session, which runs from 21 November to 5 December 2005.

Chinamasa said: "We withdrew the bid two months ago because of financial constraints. We told them that we could not host the event."

But in a telephone interview from Banjul, ACHPR legal officer Robert Eno said Zimbabwe had not formally made a request to host the session.

Eno said that at the last session Zimbabwe said it was considering hosting the next session.

"They indicated that they were considering hosting the next session but later indicated that due to circumstances beyond their control their were unable to host the summit," Eno said.

Analysts say Zimbabwe had avoided submitting a formal request in writing, fearing the wrath of the Commission because of the controversial "clean up" operation.

The operation drew the ire of the international community prompting the UN secretary general to send a special envoy to assess the impact of the "clean up" blitz.

Anna Kajumalo Tibaijuka was in the country in June and produced a damning report on "Operation Murambatsvina".

The African Commission also sent an emissary Bahame Tom Nyandunga.

Nyandunga, a member of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights and Special Rapporteur responsible for refugees and asylum seekers, was snubbed while in the country. He eventually slipped out.

He will produce a report to be tabled at the 38th ordinary session.

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