Since 1998, the human rights situation has been deteriorating in Zimbabwe. President R. Mugabe intensified verbal attacks on the opposition, the judiciary and the press, as well as Zimbabwe's white minority, which amounted to the land crisis and practical violations of human rights. In June 2000, a general election was conducted following to the dissolution of parliament on the 8th April 2000. According to the independent and impartial observers from the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), violence, intimidation and clear violations of human rights marred the election process. These apparent and continuous violations represent a breach of the Zimbabwean Constitution and its international standards. However, if the instruments are there, they are based on moral obligations and their implementation remains the key question.
[...] If it had, another State party should have alleged that Zimbabwe violated the Covenant; for instance the United States, whose three nationals were apparently not treated in accordance with both the Zimbabwean Constitution and "ordinary standards of civilisation". It must make this allegation in a formal statement addressed to Zimbabwe. If the two states do not resolve their dispute in a period of three months, each of them has the right to submit the matter to the Human Rights Committee, which will then invite the parties to present their cases (article 41 If a friendly solution is reached, the Committee reports the terms of the settlement. [...]
[...] To my mind, these examples illustrate clear abuses of human rights even though both the Zimbabwean constitution and international agreements provide for their respect. The ICCPR (1966), provided, inter alia, for the prohibition of "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" (article. "arbitrary arrest or detention" (article "the right to freedom of expression" (article 19 or article 19 of the UDHR). The African Charter on Human and Peoples' rights (1981) also protects such rights (articles 5 and 6 against torture and arbitrary arrest). [...]
[...] However, as it has been demonstrated in Iraq, such sanctions risk affecting more the civilians than members of the ruling party. EU sanctions may also be considered. As a matter of fact, the Cotonou agreement governing the EU's relations with its partners in the African (like Zimbabwe), Pacific and Caribbean regions (signed on 30 June 2000) could be used as a warning to the government of Zimbabwe. Article 8 provides for a dialogue between the two sides over issues of concern to the EU, including human rights. [...]
[...] For instance, through state practice concerning fundamental human rights, giving rise to customary international law. Under the Zimbabwean legislation, a preliminary hearing before a magistrate is required within 48 hours of an arrest (or 96 hours over a weekend. Pursuant to this article, "this right may be subject to restrictions but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary either for respect of the rights or reputation of others, or for the protection of national security or of public order or of public health or moral." Here, the article of the journalists did not seem to endanger national security or public order. [...]
[...] Nevertheless, EU suspension of aid, which is mainly focused on health projects, would hit the poorest segments of society without affecting Zimbabwe's governing class. The Zimbabwe issue demonstrates the need to have effective enforcement measures when a state is clearly in breach of its international obligation. There is perhaps a lack of general compulsory jurisdiction of an international tribunal to hear and decide on human rights cases. However, states cannot be bound against their will and they then should accept such tribunal's compulsory jurisdiction by treaty. [...]
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