UN human rights chief in Zimbabwe
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UNITED Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Navanethem Pillay arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday for a five-day visit to assess the human rights situation in the country.
Ms Pillay, a former South African High Court judge, is in Zimbabwe at the invitation of the Government to assess for herself the situation prevailing in Zimbabwe instead of depending on reports from unreliable sources.
In a brief address to the Press, Ms Pillay said it was important for Government to invite the UN to assess Zimbabweâ€™s human rights situation.
â€œI am pleased to be in Zimbabwe. It is important that Government has invited the UN to assess for itself the human rights issues of the country,â€ she said.
Ms Pillay will meet President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai separately.
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Government invited the UN Commissioner because it had nothing to hide.
â€œShe is coming at our invitation because we have nothing to hide in terms of human rights issues.
We first invited her last year but she could not make it due to commitments. In February we sent her another invitation, which she accepted; and we are happy for that,â€ he said.
Minister Chinamasa is on record saying Zimbabwe was not worried about negative reports by some non-governmental organisations as the country fully subscribed to the UN provisions on human rights.
He said the UN appreciates Zimbabweâ€™s human rights record and consequently refused to endorse the Westâ€™s illegal sanctions regime on that basis.
NGOs are allegedly scrambling to produce damning dossiers and documents on Zimbabweâ€™s human rights situation for Ms Pillayâ€™s attention in a bid to sway the UNâ€™s opinion against the country.
Some of the NGOs are alleged to have been promised more funding by their Western sponsors if they came up with damning reports about Zimbabweâ€™s alleged human rights violations.
Over the past week, sections of the private media were awash with adverts and statements from the NGO sector over alleged human rights abuses.
Ms Pillay will also meet heads of the executive, judiciary and legislature, said Secretary for Justice and Legal Affairs Mr David Mangota.
Minister Chinamasa said the UN human rights boss would also meet Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, Senate president Ednah Madzongwe and Speaker of the House of Assembly Mr Lovemore Moyo.
Today, she will meet Ministers of Defence, Labour and Social Services, Foreign Affairs, Lands and Rural Resettlement, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and senior officers in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Her itinerary will also see her meeting a cross section of other stakeholders in human rights issues before visiting a farm owned by one indigenous Zimbabwean and one tobacco auction floor.
On Thursday Ms Pillay will attend a high-level meeting on HIV and Aids that will also be attended by Malawian President Joyce Banda and her Liberian counterpart Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
She will deliver a lecture on economic and social rights at the University of Zimbabwe and later meet officials from the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Anti-Corruption Committee, before winding up her visit with a Press conference on her findings on Friday.
Foreign and privately owned local media and some civic organisations have been painting an inaccurate picture on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, alleging that Government was not doing enough to protect
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