Friday, September 28, 2012

Zimbabwe Lodges Complaint to United Nations

Zim lodges complaint to UN

Saturday, 29 September 2012 00:00
Caesar Zvayi recently at the UNITED NATIONS, New York
Zimbabwe Herald

ZIMBABWE has asked the office of the UN Secretary-General to approach the US government over increasing incidents of violation of the UN Host Agreement in the wake of routine harassment of members of President Mugabe’s delegation whenever they intend to travel to the US on UN business.

The UN headquarters, located in Columbus Circle in New York, are international territory in terms of the Host Agreement that the United States signed with the UN on June 26, 1947, and which was approved by the General Assembly on October 31, 1947.

Speaking to Zimbabwean journalists on the sidelines of the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi equated the behaviour of the US embassy in Harare to mischief.

“It’s mischief, mischief that’s all.

“We know that this is a violation of international law, of the UN Host Agreement which makes it very clear that regardless of the bilateral relations existing between member states, the host country should allow all members of delegations without exception,” Minister Mumbengegwi said.

“We have been talking to the Office of the Secretary-General that is it not high time that his office approaches the host on the issue that instances of violation of the Host Agreement are increasing?

“Isn’t it time that the UN looks at other headquarters where all delegations will be allowed in without let or hindrance?

“There are many, many countries that will be willing to host, if they (the US) are tired of hosting,” he said.

Section 11 Article IV of the Host Agreement that deals with Communications and Transit of persons to the UN Headquarters stipulates that: “the federal, state or local authorities of the United States shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district of (1) representatives of members or officials of the United Nations, or of specialised agencies as defined in Article 57, paragraph 2, of the Charter, or the families of such representatives or officials; (2) experts performing missions for the United Nations or for such specialised agencies; (3) representatives of the press, or of radio, film or other information agencies, who have been accredited by the United Nations.”

Section 12 holds that, “the provisions of Section 11 shall be applicable irrespective of the relations existing between the governments of the persons referred to in that section and the Government of the United States,” with Section 13(a) saying, “laws and regulations in force in the United States regarding the entry of aliens shall not be applied in such manner as to interfere with the privileges referred to in Section 11: “When visas are required for persons referred to in that Section, they shall be granted without charge and as promptly as possible.”

Despite these clear stipulations of the Host Agreement, members of the Zimbabwean delegation are routinely harassed and selectively denied visas.

ZBC chief correspondent Reuben Barwe, Herald deputy editor Caesar Zvayi, President Mugabe’s aide de camp Martin Kwainona, Director-General in the President’s Office Retired Major General Happyton Bonyongwe, have all been denied visas to travel to the UN, a development that observers said bids the Government to summon the US ambassador in Harare to register its displeasure over the continued wanton violation of international law by Washington.

Zimbabwe’s Permanent Mission to the UN had to lodge a complaint with the Office of UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, over Reuben Barwe’s case. His visa was only released on Saturday, three days after the delegation had left for Washington

Contrary to a statement released by the US Embassy in Harare that no Zimbabwean journalists are on US sanctions, Barwe was detained for close to two hours at JFK International Airport, and was told that he was among individuals barred to travel to the United States.

In 2009, this writer applied for a visa in August, and only got a letter denying him the visa in May 2010, long after the 64th session of the UNGA he intended to cover had ended.

The letter clearly stated that he was barred from travelling to New York in terms of a February 22, 2002, US presidential proclamation “that bars travel of senior members of the Government of Robert Mugabe, and other Zimbabwean nationals who formulate, implement, or benefit from institutions or impede the transition to a multi-party democracy . . .”

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