Zimbabwe’s EU sanctions case opens

via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Zimbabwe’s EU sanctions case opens at the General Court. 15 June 2014   by Staff reporter

THE hearing in the case in which the Zimbabwean Government is challenging the legality of sanctions imposed on the country by the European Union opened at the General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg on Tuesday last week, with Zimbabwe arguing its case that the sanctions were illegal since they were not backed by a United Nations resolution.Zimbabwe’s case was argued by a team of international lawyers, led by David Vaughan QC and Maya Lester, both of Brick Court Chambers in London.

Instructing attorneys, Michael O’Kane of Peters and Peters Solicitors from the UK, as well as Jacob Mutevedzi of Mutamangira and Associates and Gerald N Mlotshwa of Titan Law Chambers, both of Zimbabwe, were also in attendance.The United Kingdom, whose bilateral dispute with Zimbabwe over land was internationalised through the European Union sanctions regime, had intervened in the case at its own initiative, raising questions over its interest.

The application seeks to have the sanctions declared illegal on five primary grounds:

1 There was no legal basis for imposing sanctions on the individuals and companies associated with the Government of Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF merely on the basis of reports from faceless internet newspapers and non-governmental organisations;

2 There was no legal basis for imposing sanctions on the said individuals and companies on the sole basis that they were Zanu-PF members of the then inclusive Government.

3 The European Union in imposing sanctions had failed to give adequate or sufficient reasons for targeting the said individuals and entities;

4 In imposing sanctions, the European Union had failed to provide particulars or evidence to the affected persons and entities in order to allow them to comment on the case against them, in particular, those cases where serious criminal misconduct was alleged;

5 The European Union had infringed, without justification or proportion, the applicants’ fundamental rights, including the right to protection of their property, business, reputation and private and family life.

The EU’s defence is that as long as the affected person was a Zanu-PF member of the Government at the time or a company associated with Government or Zanu-PF, this was enough to justify the “restrictive measures” on the individuals and persons concerned.The UK did not attend the hearing.

The reasons for the United Kingdom’s absence at the hearing could not immediately be established.

The decision by the United Kingdom to launch its own submissions when the rest of the EU is being jointly represented has lent credence to Government’s argument that the standoff between the EU and Zimbabwe is a bilateral issue between the Southern African state and the United Kingdom with the latter roping in the EU as a means to lend legitimacy to its hostile foreign policy.Government initiated the case in September 2011 through a letter of demand which received a contemptuous response from the EU Council and Commission. The response led to the formal filing of the case on April 25, 2012.

The EU imposed sanctions on President Mugabe and at least 112 people and 11 companies that were said to be associated with Government in 2002.The bloc has since removed sanctions on most of the people and companies but maintained them on President Mugabe and First Lady Amai Mugabe.In a statement, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs said Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Prosecutor-General Mr Tomana and Deputy Chief Secretary in the office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Ray Ndhlukula attended the court proceedings.

“Three Judges (from Sweden, Bulgaria and Greece) of the General Court heard the matter in open Court, hearing arguments from all the parties, for an unprecedented length of time lasting the entire day (such hearings usually last less than an hour),” said the ministry.

The counsel for the Government argued that it was only the Security Council of the United Nations that had the lawful power to impose sanctions on a member country while the rest of the member countries’ obligation was supportive only.

Zimbabwe, since independence has never been the subject of any such sanctions.

“In fact there were attempts by the United Kingdom to present a draft resolution to the Security Council in 2009 targeting 14 persons in the Government of Zimbabwe. The resolution was not passed because the test was not satisfied, that Zimbabwe’s conduct needed to amount to a threat to international peace and security to attract UN sanctions.

The United Nations Security Council therefore refused to impose sanctions or even condemn the Government of Zimbabwe (let alone Zanu-PF),” said the ministry.Zimbabwe argues that, therefore, there is no legal basis upon which EU can continue to target persons and entities associated with Government.The oral hearing will remain open for two weeks in order to allow filing of further documents by all parties, in this case the UK to allow it to make its oral submissions, if any.A ruling is expected to be handed down during the course of the year.

Legal experts who spoke on condition of anonymity since the case is sub judice said Zimbabwe was likely to win the case as the EU acted illegally in imposing the sanctions.”I think EU acted illegally in imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe was never given an opportunity to defend itself. We were never at war or any other crisis hence there was no basis for the sanctions.

My take is it was illegal and Zim will win the case,” said a prominent lawyer based in Harare.

On what further action the country should take if it wins, he said the country would cross the bridge when it got there.

“Winning the case on its own will send the right message across the world that EU actions were wrong.”Other lawyers said they would rather comment after judgment is handed down.





  • comment-avatar
    Bloody agent 8 years ago

    Zimbabwe also imposed sanctions on then UK, and so the UK should take the Zimbabwe Govt to court over these.

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      publicprotector 8 years ago

      @Bloody agent-What sanctions? – why are you the only fool that knows about them!

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        A sanction banning the international press

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        Wethu 8 years ago

        @publicprotector if at all you decide to call others fools, then make sure you have 100% of the facts. Zimbabwe did in fact announce sanctions against individuals in the then UK government. However, this was a comic event as the said individuals had never visited, had never applied to visit and had never intended to visit Zimbabwe. Neither of them had any business deals with Zimbabwe either.

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    Expat 8 years ago

    Why is that in the Zimbabwe politicians mind the rules only apply to their benefit. ie Minister Emerson Mnangagwa does not feel in a ‘democratic’ government, the peoples view is irrelevant????? and of course when this case is dismissed with costs the Zimbabwean people, or rather the very few tax payers will be footing the bill!

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    Chaka 8 years ago

    Zimbabwe gvt seeking justice? The justice system in Zimbabwe favours the gvt. Eu had the suffering of Zim citizens in mind. Justice is not fair.

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    Petal 8 years ago

    These bufoons want sanctions lifted so they can call the shots and hide the looted money from the coffers all over the place

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      Kevin Watson 8 years ago

      Under money laundering laws in the EU, the EU can confiscate the illegitimate funds and prosecute the offenders. The ZANU PF looters are better off under sanctions. The money cannot be protected under diplomatic rules.

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    Mugabe will loose and will have to pay. And… the case will expose the fact that there are no sanctions on the country of Zimbabwe, just restrictive measures on the scum that run it. There goes the ZANU-PF lie that sanctions killed the economy.

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    It is only simple-minded people, ones who have not been to Zimbabwe or those who can not even place the country on the world map, let alone the map of Africa who can dare say that the ‘targeted sanctions” did not hurt the country. Anyone in his right mind and not drunk on opposition politics, for the sake of opposition , will tell you that the sanctions were target on the people of Zimbabwe to make them suffer so that they could rise against the ZANU- led government to bring about “regime change”. The project invited by MDC and UK on Zimbabwe to punish her for the land issue affected individuals and companies deemed by the above and their sympathisers to be supporting ZANU -PF. The organisations and individuals employed Zimbabweans from across the political divide so when their activities collapsed because of the “targeted sanctions” a lot of Zimbabweans were thrown onto the streets, hence the suffering affecting the country. If the sanctions were ‘targeted ” against individuals and organisations sympathising with ZANU-PF how come the Briton Woods institutions and the EU decided to close their doors on Zimbabwe? Which country(ies) in the world , our global village, can survive without borrowing from these institutions from Greece to the USA, name them? Is it only Zimbabwe, of all the countries in the world, where the rule of law is questionable or servicing of debts is aproblem. Recently I was talking to a colleagues here in the diaspora, ( a South African) who had just been to visit the country just like me and they were saying it is by far safer to live and work in Zimbabwe than in South Africa!

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      The Bretton Woods institutions closed their doors to Zimbabwe long before the targeted measures were introduced, because Zimbabwe refused to pay it’s bills. The IMF and the World Bank cut Mugabe off from more money when he stopped doing what every other deabtor is expected to do – to honor their debts! That’s why the economy collapsed, because of Mugabe’s attitude, not the restrictive travel and shopping measures on individuals who stole elections and committed human rights abuses and murder.

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    Kabunga 8 years ago

    And what about the Zimbabwean people’s fundamental rights, including the people’s right to protection of their property, business, reputation, private and family life as the Zimbabwe Government is demanding in clause 5??!!

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      Kabunga, the government of Zimbabwe does not care about the fundamental rights of the people of Zimbabwe. In part five of their argument they are merely asserting that those rights of those specificly listed individuals have been effected by the travel and shopping restrictions of the EU. Those restrictions have not effected the rest of the country.

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    Stingray 8 years ago

    The govt banned among others John Matinde, Godwin, EU election monitors , Emminent Persons Group , musicians ,Claire Short as retaliation against sanctions. Jonathan Moyo announced the sanctions against these people. I wonder if they are also taking their case to the EU Court.

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    munzwa 8 years ago

    @the future, it has been said before if you do not repay loans you become a defaulter and a high risk to investors. There is a perception in this country that the rest of the world owes everything to Zimbabwe and any loans are simply hand outs.Grow up and be responsible for your actions. Bear in mind these debts that have been run up by zanu and their minons will have to be paid back by our youth thereby retarding their ability to progress and join the benefits and advancements of the rest of the world…

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    Had it not been for the intransigence of some farmers, some who had ten farms to themselves, when the majority population had none, and the changing of goals by the British in solving the lady question as per Lancester Agreement, the Zimbabwe government would not have taken the path they took in 2000. Mugabe would still be the darling of the world, but a villain in his own country . Land hunger amongst the majority population, those of you who are in the know about the history of the country, bore the war of liberation that saw Mugabe coming to power. That being the case, as long as the afore-said question was unresolved Zimbabwe was always going to be seated on a powder keg. Sanctions or no sanctions, the majority of people one interviews in Zimbabwe think Mugabe did the right thing by redistributing land to the landless , hence the huge support he has, especially, in the country side where the majority of people live. Zimbabwe is just a developing country so it is naive for one to imagine it putting any meaningful sanctions on the super powers! What the country has just done is to carefully negotiate through the current landmine riddled sanctions field for its survival. To that end many persons and organisations that went on an anti-Mugabe trail blaze have woken up to the reality that he is in charge in the country and are now trying to engage his government to normalise relationships in one way or the other. Even people who were sceptical about getting land are now clamouring for it! Zimbabwe, fortunately or unfortunately, is difficult to ignore because it is richly endowed with important minerals, fertile soils and a pleasant climate, major tourist attractions , and an educated and determined labour-force to mention just but a few positives.

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      Future, you should read the Lancaster House Agreement. Nowhere within it are the British compelled to pay directly to solve the land question. Rather, they pledge to support a more equatable distribution of assets to all Zimbabweans. For nearly twenty years they did just that by giving money to Mugabe to purchase farms on a willing-seller-willing-buyer basis, but after all those years of contributing money hardly anything had changed so they asked Mugabe to account for the money they had given him. He could not, because most of the money had gone to ZANU-PF fat cats, just like the diamond money does now. At that point the British said, enough is enough, we will no longer give you money specifically to buy land, but will support the betterment of the people in less direct ways by supporting the work of NGOs and supplying food aid as well. To this day, I believe the British are the second largest supporters if the people of Zimbabwe, after the US. The Chinese have done nothing.

      As to those stubborn farmers, what about Robert and Grace Mugabe, who now own nearly 20 farms? Is that any less unfair?

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    jobolinko 8 years ago

    People in diaspora must be allowed to vote, voters roll must be a right for zimbabweans, Aaipa and posa must go, people must be arrested according what actions they have done againist the law not trumped up charges or political affiliation,the glenview case is one example the state has got no case just like the Cain Nkala case

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    DL, you ready the Lancester Agreement quite well, I , however, want to remind you that the British, through their subjects Rhodes and Ian Smith, authored the land issue that led to the war of liberation. Indigenous people of Zimbabwe were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands into communal/ tribal trust lands with inhospitable climatic conditions and poor soils to create farms for colonial settlers . No compensation what so ever was made for the land or improvements that they made on their land.The Bere clan was , for example, uprooted from the fertile and well-watered Mashava (Mashaba) area to the hot and dry Chivi (Chibi) communal lands . It is, therefore, very logical, at law, that if it were not for the Lancester Agreement Zimbabwe was not even supposed to pay a pen to get the land back from the farmers whose farms were repossesed between 1980 and 2000. It is unfortunate that the farmers in question inherited or bought farms that were forcibly acquired from indigenous people by the settler government so it would be unthinkable for one to expect Indigenous Zimbabweans, after independence, to pay for the land that was'” stolen” from them. Some of us will recall how some farmers hiked the cost of their farms to ensure that they were out of the reach of the Zimbabwean government and how the Tonny Blair government through Short disowned the agreements that the British and the Zimbabwe government had entered into. Could the Zimbabwe government have been expected to wait for the return of the land for ever given the deal -darling mentioned herein ? My last remark is that it is wrong for anyone to have more than one farm in Zimbabwe. The recent audit exposed people with multiple farms and I hope and wish they are going to be dealt with accordingly.

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    Future, you’re confusing the issue at hand. The question the court is asked to determine is whether travel and shopping restrictions on Mugabe and his butt lickers are “illegal.” That has nothing to do with the land question. The targeted restrictions were imposed because Mugabe blatantly stole the 2002 election and committed systemic human rights violations against the opposition parties.

    Mugabe and ZANU-PF would like very much to link the EU’s action to the land reform issue, but it’s not germane.

    The EU has reviewed the human rights situation every year since, in hopes that Mugabe would start to act like a statesman and not a despot, to improve the lives of his fellow countrymen and to allow democratic activities to happen under his watch. But unfortunately, there has been no change. He still steals elections and does not allow any opposition or any freedom of speech to his own people. His methods have become more sophisticated, now relying on an Israeli hi-tech company to achieve with a computer what he used to achieve with brute force. The results are still the same.

    The only change has been on the European side. Greed finally got the better of them and they decided that Zimbabwe’s riches were too much to resist and that they wanted a piece of the pie that China, Russia and South Africa were already gorging on. I guess eventually we’re all human.

    In a court of law there’s no way that Mugabe can win; and he’s built up such a mythology about how the restrictive measures were illegal and the cause of all of Zimbabwe’s woes, that when he loses perhaps he will finally look in the mirror and say to himself, “Yes, I destroyed this country with my greed.” But he probably won’t… he’ll just say, “Go hang!”

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    The EU do not need permission from the UN to impose sanctions on any country or individual(s). The EU is an independent entity. Furthermore, the EU did not impose sanctions on Zimbabwe the country. They imposed sanction on all those human rights violators, the thieves that are bleeding Zimbabwe dry. The Zimbabwean citizenry have been reduced to paupers. Their right to freedom of speech has been suppressed, their right to vote for the party or individual of their choice has been denied them. Besides Mugabe says he does not need the EU so why is he litigating them for the sanctions, Countries have the right to impose sanctions and they don’t need permission from any one to do so. Mugabe stop blaming sanctions for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy, you did that.

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    Ladies and gentlemen let us not try to hide behind our fingers. The sanctions , whether targeted at Zimbabwe , Mugabe or his friends are hurting ordinary Zimbabweans and not “the intended ” targets. It is only some of us who lack the capacity to digest issues before making comments who still parrot the lies that are being peddled by , mainly, the western media, with a western agenda to get Mugabe out of power who still look at the issue from a different stand point. Major socio-economic and political organisations and countries have come to the conclusion that the sanctions are hurting ordinary people and ,therefore, were an utter fiasco. This is one reason why they are reengaging Zimbabwe.

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    Mark Talbot 8 years ago

    Mugabe and ZANU-PF imposed the sanctions on Zimbabwe when they failed to service their debt, pillaged private and public property and destroyed the economy. They only like persecution when they are doing the persecuting.