Zimbabwe

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27 March 2001.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Foreign Secretary 12:00, 27 March 2001

We deplore the escalating attacks on human rights in Zimbabwe. Of particular concern has been the enforced retirement of the Chief Justice following threats to his life; the destruction of the printing press of the only independent daily newspaper; the expulsion of foreign journalists for criticising the regime; and the continuing political intimidation, which has claimed more than 40 lives in the last 12 months.

In view of the deteriorating standard of human rights, we have decided that Zimbabwe is no longer an appropriate base for the British military team that provides regional training in peacekeeping. It will have left by this weekend.

We were successful in securing a statement from last week's meeting of Commonwealth Ministers recording our common concern at the intimidation of the judiciary and the media. The meeting agreed to send a ministerial delegation to Zimbabwe to convey our collective concerns and to prepare advice for Commonwealth Heads of Government.

Britain will continue to take every responsible step, both bilaterally and through the Commonwealth, the European Union and the United Nations, to impress on the Government of Zimbabwe the fact that their behaviour is unacceptable by modern standards and denies the people of Zimbabwe the freedom, the safety and the rights to which they are entitled.