International brief ~ 200 NGOs appeal to UN, AU to stop Zimbabwe evictions

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's international brief, in an immense demonstration of cooperation, over 200 African and international NGOs have made a collective appeal to the United Nations and the African Union [official website] to force Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe [Wikipedia profile] and the Zimbabwean government [official website] to cease "Operation Restore Order", the program of systematic evictions and arrests of illegal squatters and merchants that has resulted in over 30,000 arrests and an unknown number of homeless individuals, with estimates ranging from 300,000 to closer to one million being completely without shelter. The petition, spearheaded by Amnesty International [advocacy website] among other leading NGOs, calls on the UN to take immediate action to cease the evictions, now moving into rural areas, instead of waiting to hear from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recently appointed special envoy [JURIST report]. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. Read Amnesty International's press release. ZimOnline has local coverage.

In related news, the Zimbabwe government has authorized Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made to approach national and international NGOs for assistance in caring for those left homeless by "Operation Restore Order" and the destruction of hundreds of thousands of homes. The decision is a reversal of a previous refusal [JURIST report] to allow NGOs to help in aid efforts and is seen as highly embarrassing for President Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF party [official website]. Chombo and Made have already begun speaking to NGO representatives, and some, such as the Red Cross and Christian Care, have already sent workers in to begin aiding families in the affected zones. The first official complaints of deaths caused directly by police action [ZimOnline report] in razing 'illegal' housing were filed Thursday, as reports indicated that three children had been killed, two by direct police orders to send bulldozers into buildings that had children still sleeping inside. The exact ages of the children have not been reported, but one was a toddler and one was a high school student. Zimbabwean police deny direct responsibility and blame the parents of the children instead for failing to evacuate their condemned building fast enough. ZimOnline has local coverage

In other international legal news ...

  • The Nepali government was caught lying to the Nepal Supreme Court Thursday, after it declared that Nawaraj Subedi, Secretary General of the Jana Morcha Nepal political party had not been rearrested following a court ordered release last week. Sudeep Pathak, a member of the Nepal National Human Rights Committee [official website], told the Supreme Court that, despite government assurance that they were not detaining Subedi, a team from the NHRC had met with Subedi in the district police office in Lalitpur on Thursday, one day after the government's testimony that Subedi was not in there custody. The government responded that Subedi had been detained and not re-arrested. The government has had a revolving door arrest policy with many outspoken opponents to the declaration of a state of emergency [JURIST report] by King Gyanendra [official profile] rearrested after being released them pursuant to court order. Subedi was rearrested within hours of his release [Kantipur Online report] following last week's Supreme Court-ordered release. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. Kantipur Online has local coverage.

  • The UN General Assembly [official website] met Wednesday and approved a $3.2 billion (USD) budget for UN peacekeeping operations [official website], the largest budget ever granted peacekeeping in UN history. The General Assembly included with its approval a call for heightened scrutiny of fiscal allocations of peacekeeping funds, more efficiency in management departments, and quicker implementation of budgetary changes. The Assembly also acknowledged the work of the UN peacekeeping forces and warned that more care was needed in deploying those forces, as international demand for UN interventions was at an unprecedented high. Read the official UN press release. The UN News Centre has local coverage.

 

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