[JURIST] The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) [advocacy website] Wednesday urged [press release, DOC] the UN Security Council to refer Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile] to the International Criminal Court [official website] for his role in Operation Murambatsvina [UN report, PDF; Wikipedia backgrounder], a coordinated effort to remove unlicensed sellers and non-zoned houses from the streets of Harare in 2005. COHRE claims that Mugabe's actions rise to the level of a crime against humanity and have published a legal opinion [PDF text] in conjunction with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights [advocacy website] detailing their allegations.
According to COHRE's press release:
The independent legal opinion on crimes against humanity concludes that there is sufficient evidence that the crimes of forced displacement, Article 7(1) (d) of the Rome Statute, were committed during Operation Murambatsvina. The victims were lawfully present in Zimbabwe and the evictions were a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population as part of a State policy, and were not justified on grounds permitted under international law. The opinion also finds that the evictions constitute an inhumane act under Article 7(1) (k) due to the immense physical and mental suffering meted out to the victims. The Security Council therefore has authority to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court under the Rome Statute.Operation Murambatsvina resulted in hundreds of thousands of individuals being evicted from their homes with no place to stay. Zimbabwe came under heavy criticism for its actions and the United Nations sent a special envoy to investigate the situation. ZimOnline has more.