- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 4, 2004

JOHANNESBURG — African nations combined for the first time yesterday to condemn the Zimbabwe government for its “flagrant human rights abuses,” signaling a shift in their attitude towards President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly repressive regime.

The African Union’s executive council, meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to prepare for this week’s conference of 53 heads of state, adopted a report criticizing Mr. Mugabe’s regime for the arrests and torture of opposition legislators and human rights lawyers, harassment and arrests of journalists, the stifling of freedom of expression and abuse of civil liberties.

African foreign ministers ignored the protests of the Zimbabwe delegation, which complained that it had not been given an opportunity to study and respond to the report by the AU’s commission on human and people’s rights.

The commission found after interviewing victims of political violence and torture in Zimbabwe that “at the very least, human rights violations and arbitrary arrests have occurred.”

It was “particularly alarmed” by the arrest and detention of Stanford Moyo, president of the Zimbabwe Law Society.

Referring to the invasion of white-owned farms: “Many land activists undertook their illegal actions in expectation that the government was understanding and that police would not act against them. Government did not act soon enough and firmly enough against those guilty of gross criminal acts.”

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