Statement by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on the report of the fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in 2002.

According to a report in the Herald on 6 July 2004, under the heading “AU Rejects Damning Report on Zimbabwe”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stan Mudenge, is said to have “objected to the presentation of the report saying Zimbabwe had not been afforded the right of reply to the damning allegations as per requirement on such matters”, adding that “The Council of Ministers of the AU” comprising the Foreign Ministers of the 53 AU members states, had decided that the Commission had not solicited the response of the member-state concerned which response should have been included. The Minister asserts that the Commission did not observe protocol as it allegedly sent the report to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the records of the Forum, the report of the fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe, undertaken from 25 – 28 June 2002, was “considered and adopted” by “the African Commission at its 34th Ordinary Session” (November 2003).

In terms of the procedures of the African Commission, following the adoption of a report, the member state is given the opportunity to make its comments on the report before it is presented to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU.

The Forum was reliably informed on 5 February 2004, that the fact-finding mission report was with the Government of Zimbabwe and would be published, together with the comments of the Government, as soon as these were received.

While it was the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that was delegated by Government in 2002 to co-ordinate the agenda for the fact-finding mission of the African Commission, the rules of the Commission are silent on the Ministry to which a mission report should be submitted stating only that the Commission must submit reports to the relevant member states.

The Forum is therefore of the view that the requirement by the African Commission to present the report to the Government of the member state concerned, in this case Zimbabwe, was adequately satisfied.

Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.