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13 Jan 2009 15:31
Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe should be charged with crimes against humanity over rights abuses and the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health system, United States-based Physicians for Human Rights said on Tuesday.
The recommendation came in a damning 45-page report following the group’s mission to the country last month, which found the health crisis stemmed from serious human rights violations by Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.
“The Zanu-PF regime continues to violate Zimbabweans’ civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,” the report said.
“The United Nations Security Council ... should enact a resolution referring the crisis in Zimbabwe to the International Criminal Court for investigation and to begin the process of compiling documentary and other evidence that would support the charge of crimes against humanity,” it added.
The group’s four-member team, which included two physicians, met more than 90 people, including lawmakers, government officials, health workers, farmers and others during their December 13 to 20 mission.
Richard Goldstein, former chief prosecutor at the UN International Criminal Court, and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights chief Mary Robinson said in a preface to the report that the findings added to the evidence against Mugabe.
“These findings add to the growing evidence that Robert Mugabe and his regime may well be guilty of crimes against humanity,” they said in the preface, also signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The report cited an alarming collapse in health care, which it said was “the direct outcome of the violation of a number of human rights, including the right to participate in government and in free elections”.
According to the report, individuals in Mugabe’s government could be found guilty of crimes against humanity such as murder, torture, rape, sexual slavery, persecution and abductions.
“Massive and egregious human rights violations against the people of Zimbabwe under the rule of Mugabe constitute added proof of the commission by the Mugabe regime of crimes against humanity,” it said.
With basic infrastructure crumbling, a cholera epidemic broke out in August and has claimed 1 ,900 lives so far, the report said.
Zimbabweans suffer the lowest life expectancy in the world, at 36 years, while more than one in every 100 women die during or shortly after pregnancy, it noted.
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