Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Zimbabwe Senses Sanctions Victory With EU

Zim senses sanctions victory

Saturday, 26 May 2012 22:09
Sunday Mail Reporter

Zimbabwe stands a good chance of winning its court battle against the European Union (EU) over sanctions because there are no firm legal grounds to justify the embargo, legal experts have said.

In separate interviews last week, the experts said the case was bound to go in favour of the Southern African state as the EU took the punitive action without following proper channels.

They also said the sanctions were based on frivolous allegations.

Prominent Harare lawyer Mr Terrence Hussein said the punitive measures were unjustified. He said Nicaragua had already set a precedent by winning a case against the United States in international courts.

“From a legal standpoint, our chances of winning the judgment are bright because there are no firm grounds to justify these sanctions,” he said.

“The action taken to impose the sanctions was not only arbitrary but also smacked of vindictiveness.”

Mr Hussein said the lawsuit against the EU was a landmark achievement as it marks the few moments that a developing country has challenged a perceived giant in international affairs through legal means.

“Most nations prefer to settle issues of such kind through diplomatic means.

“However, Zimbabwe has made a strong statement to the world that the so-called giant can also be challenged through the legal system.

“The norm has always been for the developed countries to test international laws against the poor. However, this development sends a strong message that international law is not only for the strong nations but for the weak as well. On the other hand, the issue is not only about winning, it is also about asserting our rights as an independent and sovereign state.

“It is like the case of a high school bully who abuses someone. So, in this case, we are protesting against the bully and sending a clear message that we will not accept being bullied.”

Founding statement to the EU court case
Another lawyer, Mr Tafadzwa Sengwe, said Zimbabwe was never accorded the opportunity to respond to the allegations that led to the sanctions.

“The proper legal course was not followed. When you accuse someone of wrongdoing, you should give that someone a right to respond to the allegations and only then can a judgment be drawn,” he said.

“In this case, Zimbabwe did not get a chance to respond to the allegations and punishment was meted out based on allegations that were frivolous and assumed.”

On April 25, Attorney-General Mr Johannes Tomana led Zimbabwe’s bid to seek legal recourse over the sanctions by taking the Council of the European Union and European Commission to the General Court of the EU in Brussels.

The sanctions are legally and technically inconsistent with the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU in that they violate its treaty.

According to the AG’s application, the EU:

Included individuals without proper legal basis for doing so;
Manifestly erred in considering that the criteria for listing on the contested measures were fulfilled;
Failed to give adequate or sufficient reasons for including individuals and entities;
Failed to safeguard the applicants’ rights of defence and to effective judicial review; and
Infringed without jurisdiction or proportion the applicants’ fundamental rights, including the right to protection of their property, business, reputation and privilege and family life.

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