Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 15th January 2002.

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Photo of Mr Bill Tynan Mr Bill Tynan Labour, Hamilton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to the Zimbabwe authorities regarding the treatment of members of the foreign and domestic press.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary issued a strong statement on 24 November expressing his concern at the comments of the Zimbabwean Government spokesman which implied that foreign and local journalists were assisting terrorists. The British High Commissioner in Zimbabwe made formal representations to the Foreign Ministry in Harare on 26 November, and wrote to the Zimbabwean Foreign Minister the same day, expressing the British Government's deep concern at threats to the independent media in Zimbabwe.

We have since taken every opportunity to reiterate this concern. Others share our concerns. The European Union has made the issue central to its formal consultations with the Zimbabwe Government under the Cotonou Agreement. Freedom of the media is a key element of recently-passed United States Congressional legislation on Zimbabwe. And Commonwealth Ministers issued a strong statement of concern about the situation in Zimbabwe at their meeting in London on 20 December, including the pressures on the independent media in that country.

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