The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporter
THE UN Special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, Ms Alena Douhan, has called for the lifting of illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, saying that the economic embargo against the southern African nation had strangled its economy over the last two decades thereby adversely affecting the quality of life enjoyed by its citizens.
Ms Douhan has been on a 10-day fact finding mission in Zimbabwe, which began on 18 October and is expected to end on Thursday.
Her visit coincided with October 25, the day set aside by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to call for the unilateral removal of the illegal economic sanctions that have choked the country’s development for 20 years.
The high-profile visit by Ms Douhan, follows the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 34/13 of 2017, which stresses that unilateral coercive measures and legislation were contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, the charter and norms and principles governing peaceful relations among states.
In a press statement, Ms Douhan pointed out the debilitating effect of sanctions on various spheres of life in Zimbabwe.
“Over the last 20 years, sanctions and various forms of over-compliance with sanctions have had an insidious ripple effect on the economy of Zimbabwe and on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including access to health, food, safe drinking water and sanitation, education and employment.
“This situation also limits Zimbabwe’s ability to guarantee the functioning of public institutions, delivery of services, and maintenance of essential infrastructure, and undermines the right to development of the Zimbabwean people and impedes the achievement of the sustainable development goals,” she said.
Ms Douhan noted how the sanctions had resulted in inefficient high-cost bank transactions, serious challenges in accessing credit lines and major disruptions in supply-chains, which impinge the ability to secure infrastructure financing and business continuity. In such an environment, it was prudent that sanctions be lifted, as they were also providing a breeding ground for such economic vices as corruption and money laundering Ms Douhan observed.
“The US and other States should lift their sanctions on targeted individuals and entities and end over-compliance. The time is ripe for sanctioning States and key national stakeholders to engage in a meaningful structured dialogue on political reform, human rights and the rule of law, and abandon rhetoric on sanctions as an advocacy tool” she said.
The Special Rapporteur will present her concluding observations in a report to the Human Rights Council in September next year.