Zimbabwe deports UN Special Rapporteur on torture

Zimbabwe barred the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, from the entering the country, though he had initially been invited by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

The invitation was rescinded two days before his expected arrival after the government told Nowak to postpone his trip.

Nowak delayed the trip by a day and came to Harare after receiving an invitation to meet with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa described the deportation of Nowak as "an act of recklessness by ZANU-PF".

"How on earth can we attract investment when we shun good will? Investors want confidence and there is no way you can build that when Zimbabwe behaves like another Burma," he said.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE866, ZIM OFFICIALS MISTREAT, DEPORT UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE866

2009-10-30 09:07

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4428

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DE RUEHSB #0866/01 3030907

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 300907Z OCT 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5088

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2398

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3138

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3250

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1677

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2511

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2880

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3298

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5746

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2430

RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000866

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR M. GAVIN

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L. DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN

STATE PASS TO DOL FOR S. HALEY

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM ASEC UN ZI

SUBJECT: ZIM OFFICIALS MISTREAT, DEPORT UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON

TORTURE

 

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SUMMARY

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1. (SBU) The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel,

inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, was

deported from Zimbabwe on October 29 after officials at the Harare

International Airport refused him entry the previous evening. He

was scheduled to visit Zimbabwe October 28 through November 4 at the

invitation of Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa (ZANU-PF). His

invitation, however, was rescinded on October 26 when the government

told him to postpone his trip. Nowak delayed a day and came to

Harare on October 28 after receiving an invitation to meet with

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. END SUMMARY.

 

-----------------------------

"Serious Diplomatic Incident"

-----------------------------

 

2. (U) Manfred Nowak, an Austrian human rights lawyer and the UN

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading

treatment or punishment was deported from Zimbabwe on the morning of

October 29 after being detained in the airport VIP lounge overnight.

Nowak told a reporter that it was a "serious diplomatic incident."

 

 

3. (SBU) Nowak and two assistants arrived at Harare International

Airport at 9:20 p.m. local time on October 28 on the last flight of

the day from Johannesburg, South Africa. Security officials blocked

Nowak's entry and berated him in the baggage collection area before

ordering him to a private office in the airport. When Nowak

explained that he had a letter of invitation from Prime Minister

Morgan Tsvangirai, a security official responded that the Ministry

of Foreign Affairs (MFA) had not cleared the meeting. The UN Deputy

Resident Representative, Lare Sisay, was at the airport to receive

Nowak, but security officials denied him access to Nowak and his

delegation. (NOTE: Nowak arrived on the same flight as officials

from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Troika, who

observed the incident. END NOTE.)

 

----------------

Nowak is Furious

----------------

 

4. (SBU) On arrival in Johannesburg on October 29, Nowak told

journalists that he had "never been treated as rudely by any

government as the Government of Zimbabwe." He further explained

that while he was detained in the airport, he phoned Tsvangirai's

aides who sent a delegation to get him. On arrival, however,

security officials refused to grant the delegation access to the

airport interior and denied knowing Nowak's whereabouts. Nowak also

told the press that if the Prime Minister "is not in a position to

clear my entrance to the country, that is a very, very alarming

signal about the power structure of the government."

 

-----------------------------------------

Government Invited, then Un-invited Nowak

QGovernment Invited, then Un-invited Nowak

-----------------------------------------

 

5. (SBU) Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa (ZANU-PF) had invited

Nowak to visit Zimbabwe October 28-November 4 on an official

fact-finding mission. The visit came as a surprise to many, as it

was the first invitation from the Zimbabwean government to an

 

HARARE 00000866 002 OF 002

 

 

official working for the UN's Human Rights Council. According to

Sisay, Chinamasa apparently made the invitation in an effort to

regularize relations with human rights bodies without understanding

that, under the terms of reference, Nowak would have free reign to

speak with whomever he chose during his visit. Rather, the

government believed it could control his schedule and limit his

access to torture victims and the NGOs that assist them. Sisay

believes that when the ZANU-PF elements of the government figured

out they could not control Nowak's schedule, they turned off the

visit. Nowak told journalists at his Johannesburg press conference

that "there are certainly some parts of the government who do not

want me to assess the current conditions of torture."

 

6. (U) On October 26, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted

Nowak's Geneva office and asked him to postpone his visit, stating

that the government "regrets to advise that due to the previously

unanticipated consultative process... the Government of Zimbabwe

will be unable to receive the Special Rapporteur on the proposed

dates." Nowak only learned that the GOZ was rescinding his

invitation after he had arrived in Johannesburg in transit to

Harare. Joey Bimha, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of

Foreign Affairs, told the press on October 29, "We had no option but

to send (Nowak) back because we had informed him that his services

were no longer needed here." Sisay told us he spoke with the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs today to seek an explanation of GOZ

actions. An official told him the visit was inopportune because

government officials needed to attend to the visiting SADC Troika

delegation. When Sisay responded that the SADC visit would only

last a day or two but that Nowak was scheduled to be in Harare for

almost a week, there was no reply.

 

7. (SBU) Commenting on the incident in the press, MDC Spokesman

Nelson Chamisa described it as "an act of recklessness by ZANU-PF."

He continued, "How on earth can we attract investment when we shun

good will? Investors want confidence and there is no way you can

build that when Zimbabwe behaves like another Burma."

 

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COMMENT

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8. (SBU) This is just the latest example of the rapidly escalating

tension in Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the MDC's decision to

disengage from ZANU-PF. In addition, it is notable that a letter of

invitation from the Prime Minister was completely disregarded by the

"security officers" at the airport who went on to lie to

Tsvangirai's delegates about Nowak's whereabouts. Despite visits

earlier this year by prominent human rights figures including

Amnesty International's Secretary General, the window of political

QAmnesty International's Secretary General, the window of political

space is quickly shrinking as ZANU-PF digs in and asserts its power

in the increasingly shaky "inclusive" government. END COMMENT.

 

PETTERSON

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