Note: This is a guest post by Timolene Tibbett of Justice Zimbabwe.
It has been widely reported in the UK press that the British Government is preparing to support the easing of sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s allies and henchmen. This will include a lifting of travel bans, unfreezing of bank accounts and potentially allowing corporate entities linked to Mugabe and trading in blood diamonds to trade freely again.
Any such easing of sanctions would also allow UK aid payments to be made directly to the Mugabe Government in Zimbabwe for the first time.
As part of a group of former Zimbabwean farmers, I would consider this a body blow, a gross betrayal and a signal that international law is irrelevant and justice unattainable.
From 2000 to 2002, Robert Mugabe instigated a brutal land reform and intimidation program, designed to shore up his power base and break the back of any political opposition in Zimbabwe. The world looked on in horror.
A direct consequence of Mugabe’s land reform was the implementation of EU wide sanctions against the ruling elite in Zimbabwe.
Since then, our group has taken the Zimbabwe Government to court in Paris via the World Bank. In 2009, we won our arbitration case, with all ruling judges voting in our favor – including the Zimbabwe Government appointed judge.
We chose to hold Mugabe accountable via legal, peaceful means. Four years later the court ruling is yet to be honored by the Zimbabwe Government.
The Government of Zimbabwe continues to be in breach of international law and obligations. The refusal to settle the World Bank ruling is a signal to the international community, investors and the people of Zimbabwe that the country remains on the wrong track.
The UK Government and EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in response to the terrible events that destroyed the lives of my staff, family and friends. Yet William Hague MP and Baroness Ashton are now planning to abandon the fight for justice with easing sanctions with no requirement on the Zimbabwe Government to honor lost court cases or stand by international obligations.
Please help us fight for the retention of sanctions on the elite in Zimbabwe who orchestrated the land grab. Help us keep the cash proceeds of illegal activities and blood diamond dealing frozen by the UK Government. Help us fight for justice and sign our petition.
Photo courtesy of Justice Zimbabwe.