EU within mandate on Dzamara issue, Envoy

via EU within mandate on Dzamara issue, Envoy – NewZimbabwe 26/08/2015

THE European Union says it is “not meddling” in Zimbabwean politics by asking government to search and find the abducted human rights activist Itai Dzamara but working within its mandate to promote democracy.

Dzamara, a journalist turned human rights activist, was abducted by suspected state agents in March and has not been seen since.

Both the EU and the US have been issuing statements urging government to provide updates on their search for Dzamara in line with a High Court order.

Last month, Harare threatened to deport foreign diplomats who continue to voice concern over Dzamara’s fate.

That was after French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse had asked Harare to intensify its search for the missing human rights activist.

In an interview with in Harare Monday, EU envoy to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme said asking government to search for Dzamara was not interfering in the country’s internal politics.

“We only ask and continue to ask the respondents in that case as identified by the courts, to do all what it is in their possibilities to try to find out what happened to Dzamara,” said Van Damme.

He said although cases of people missing are not strange worldwide that does not guarantee Harare not to search for Dzamara.

“All countries in the world have incidents of human rights including US and Europe, so nobody can claim to be more saintly than the others, but what is important is that those cases are acted on and efforts are being made to establish what happened and that those responsible in this case are brought to book and prosecuted,” said Van Damme.

He added: “That is the only thing we are asking and I do not think that this is meddling in the country’s politics.

“This is a normal discussion we have with the authorities within the framework of the Contonou partnership agreement under which we have identified shared values including protection of human rights, democracy and respect of the rule of law.”

The Church and civil society organisations have held a series of events under the “prayer meetings banner” in solidarity with the Dzamara family.

The police have however blocked some of these events especially where the opposition MDC would have been involved.

On Monday, Itai’s brother Patson Dzamara petitioned President Mugabe and the speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda asking them to act on the thorny issue.

Patson, a medical doctor, said Mugabe had a duty as head of state to protect all citizens including those who hold views different from his. He warned that Mugabe risked protests if he reneged on his duty to ensure Itai was found.

Ahead of his disappearance, Itai was leading protests in Harare calling on “failed” Mugabe to step down. At one time, he was brutally assaulted by the cops and had to be hospitalised.