Zimbabwe obstructs ICJ mission as rule of law deteriorates

Patrick-ChinamasaThe ICJ deplores the refusal of the Government of Zimbabwe to honour its invitation for an ICJ fact-finding mission to examine threats to the independence of judges and lawyers.

The ICJ can only conclude that in extending the invitation to the ICJ and in all subsequent discussions on the modalities of the mission, the Government of Zimbabwe has been acting in bad faith. The Government’s opposition to any outside scrutiny is a serious blow to the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

On 24 April 2001, Zimbabwe Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa (photo), visited the ICJ in Geneva and invited the ICJ to undertake a mission in the country during the summer of 2001. That invitation was also received in writing.

Since receipt of the invitation, the ICJ has been frustrated by the Government’s stalling on the date of the mission and its imposing unreasonable conditions, in particular as regards the composition of the ICJ delegation. The ICJ has now been advised that a mission is not possible during the autumn of 2002. No alternative date has been provided.

It is a matter of great regret that despite the ICJ’s best efforts, it is clear that no constructive purpose is served at present in continuing this now fruitless dialogue.

The ICJ salutes Zimbabwe’s lawyers and judges who, at their own peril, continue to courageously defend the rule of law in their country. The ICJ will continue to bring their struggle to the attention of the international community and will work to ensure that Zimbabwe observes those international human rights standards by which it is bound.

Note: For further information, please contact Ian Seiderman at +41-22-979-3800

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