HomeLocalGovt deports UN Torture Expert

Govt deports UN Torture Expert

GOVERNMENT yesterday deported to South Africa United Nations (UN) torture expert Manfred Nowak after he was detained by security officials on arrival at Harare International Airport on Wednesday night.

Nowak told the media in Johannesburg yesterday that officials at the airport refused to allow him through even though he had showed them his invitation letter from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai had extended the invitation after government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had informed the UN that it “will be unable to receive” Nowak because it was hosting the Sadc troika on politics, defence and security, which is in the country to review the global political agreement.

Nowak said he would recommend that the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) take action against Zimbabwe after his expulsion. Nowak, the UNHRC’s special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, said his mission in Zimbabwe had failed.

“I think that it is the end of the mission. I think I have not been treated by any government in such a rude manner than by the government of Zimbabwe. I will not (go) back,” Nowak said.

He said he remained concerned about torture in Zimbabwe and would recommend that the UNHRC take action against Manfred Nowakthe country.

“I will report to the Human Rights Council and I will recommend to them to take necessary action in respect of Zimbabwe,” Nowak said.

He did not say what action the council might take against the country.

He said he had been invited by Tsvangirai, whose power-sharing deal with President Robert Mugabe is under severe strain.

“I think it sheds light on the present power structure of the unity government if the prime minister invites me for a personal meeting and his office is not in a position to clear my entrance to the country. That is a  very alarming signal about the power structure of the present government,” Nowak lamented.

The state-controlled daily Herald yesterday accused Nowak of trying to “gatecrash into the country”.

The newspaper said Nowak had been informed by the government that he could not visit because the country was hosting the Sadc troika.

“Government had already communicated to him that he would have to visit on a later date,” the Herald said.

The troika opened talks yesterday with the rival Zimbabwean parties in a bid to patch up the rift between Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe threatening the power-sharing government.

Nowak’s invitation marked the first time Zimbabwe had offered to open up to an expert working for the UNHRC.

The urgency of an objective fact-finding visit by an independent UN expert was highlighted by allegations of the arrest, intimidation and harassment of MDC supporters and of human rights defenders in the past few days, the UN said. –– Staff Writer and Reuters.

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