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Zimbabwe sanctions effects laid bare at UN

by Staff reporter
15 Sep 2022 at 05:51hrs | Views
A DOSSIER detailing in graphic detail the horrendous effects of unilateral sanctions that were imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries at the turn of the millennium has been submitted to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland with a clarion call for their unconditional removal.

The report, compiled by Professor Alena Douhan, the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, red flags the United States, the European Union and their allies for unilateralism, breaking international laws and punishing Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans using their might.

Prof Douhan visited Zimbabwe from 18 to 28 October 2021 and gathered information first-hand on the effects of the baneful sanctions from ordinary Zimbabweans who have borne the brunt of the illegal measures for two-decades now.

During her visit, Prof Douhan managed to gather data on the impact of the unilateral sanctions as she engaged both state and non-state actors.

However, in her report, she expressed concern that she faced bottlenecks in getting information from some non-governmental organisations that were afraid of losing donor funds.

"As a result of the designation of senior State officials and companies owned or controlled by them, foreign companies and banks are unwilling to do business with the public sector of Zimbabwe, preventing the Government from getting revenue for the exercise of its public functions and provision of essential services, resulting in the violation of labour and social rights of people involved in the public sector, whose salaries are reported to be much lower than in the private sphere.

"This has led to rising unemployment, especially among the most qualified professionals, including engineers, doctors, teachers, university professors, judges and police officers.

"Unilateral sanctions have also prevented the Government from using resources to develop and maintain essential infrastructure, disaster response plans and social support programmes, which has a devastating effect on the whole population of Zimbabwe, especially those in extreme poverty, women, young people, children, medical workers and people with disabilities or life-threatening or chronic diseases, particularly in rural areas.

"Low salaries, unemployment and growing involvement in the informal economy result in migration to neighbouring countries and an increase in poverty, criminal activities, corruption, prostitution, trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation and drug abuse, especially among the most vulnerable, including women, young people and children."

Apart from the primary sanctions that were imposed by the Western world as punishment for the land reform programme, there are also secondary sanctions that have seen local financial institutions being fined to the tune of US$3,8 billion by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control.

So debilitating have been the sanctions, which are mostly encapsulated in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, that multilateral financing from institutions such as the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank has ceased — with dire ripple effects on the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans.

In the report, now before the family of nations, Prof Douhan details how the sanctions have decimated critical sectors such as health, education, and also the private sector.

"The inability of the Government to secure credits to rehabilitate, maintain and modernise infrastructure, and buy equipment and spare parts, along with supply-chain disruptions and transaction costs, have resulted in a sharp decline in the quality and accessibility of health care in the public sector, which accounts for more than 65 percent of health-care services provided," reads the report.

"The loss of State revenue and the cumulative impact of over-compliance measures have directly impacted the delivery of quality education. Numerous testimonies explained the challenges faced by teachers and school staff related to reporting to work due to transportation and accommodation costs which contribute to the high vacancy rates in the sector.

"Lack of funding and various impediments to buying school material, uniforms, computers, and other technology due to zero-risk policies by companies have also impeded the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4, on quality education."

Critical infrastructure was not spared by the sanctions which facilitated the collapse of roads, railway lines and airports.

"In Bulawayo, prior to sanctions, the National Railways of Zimbabwe mainly relied on General Motors as its main supplier. Although the National Railways of Zimbabwe was not specifically listed in sanctions regimes, its suppliers suspended business shortly after sanctions were imposed. The National Railways was reportedly determined to be ‘owned or controlled' by the members of Government responsible for transportation, who were listed by the United States and the European Union.

"The National Railways experienced a sharp decline in serviceable rolling stock from 12 million metric tonnes in the late 1990s to below the current 2.5 million metric tonnes, and it retrenched 5 200 workers as a result. Since sanctions were imposed, the National Railways has been reportedly unable to access any meaningful lines of credit in either the United States or the European Union."

In her assessment, the Special Rapporteur said the existing unilateral targeted sanctions are punitive actions that violate, at the very least, obligations arising from universal and regional human rights instruments, many of which have a peremptory character, including procedural guarantees and the presumption of innocence with a view that the grounds for their introduction do not constitute, for the most part, international crimes or comply with the grounds for universal criminal jurisdiction.

"The designation of family members of listed individuals contradicts the prohibition on punishment for an activity that does not constitute a criminal offence and constitutes collective punishment prohibited by international human rights law.

"The Special Rapporteur underlines that applying extra-territorial jurisdiction to nationals and companies of third States for co-operation with the public authorities, nationals, and companies of Zimbabwe, and alleged threats to such third-State parties, is not justified under international law and increases the risks of overcompliance with sanctions," reads the report in part.

Source - The Herald
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