UN torture expert turned back by Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe has barred at the last minute a week-long visit by an independent expert on torture who had been invited to the country by the government, the UN. said.
Zimbabwe has barred at the last minute a week-long visit by an independent expert on torture who had been invited to the country by the government, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
The expert, Austrian academic Manfred Nowak, was only told his visit had been postponed as he arrived in Johannesburg on his way to Zimbabwe where his fact-finding mission was set to last from Oct. 28-Nov. 4.
Nowak immediately called on Harare to reinstate the programme and allow him to proceed, the United Nations office in Geneva said in a statement.
The invitation marked the first time that Zimbabwe had offered to open up to an expert working for the U.N. Human Rights Council. Nowak is the Council's special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Nowak was told the decision to postpone his visit was due to talks in Harare between mediators from the 15-nation South African Development Community and leaders of Zimbabwe's troubled power-sharing government, the U.N. said.
The mediators aim to resolve growing differences over power-sharing between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. [ID:nLR490598]
But the United Nations said that although Nowak welcomed the fact that those talks were taking place, he failed to be convinced that they "should be a valid reason to cancel his eight-day mission at such a late stage".
The urgency of an objective fact-finding by an independent U.N. expert at this time was highlighted by allegations of arrest, intimidation and harassment of supporters of the MDC and of human rights defenders in the past few days, the U.N. said.
Reuters Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Ekim 2009, 00:19