Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sanctions Lawsuit: European Union Lacks Evidence Against Zimbabwe

Sanctions lawsuit: EU lacks evidence

January 28, 2014
Fidelis Munyoro
Chief Court Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

THE European Union will use open source documents to defend a lawsuit brought by Zimbabwe against the 27-member bloc for imposition of illegal sanctions on the country, The Herald has learnt.Legal experts yesterday said the use of open source documents was a clear indication the EU had no solid defence.

The suit, which is now before the Eighth Chamber (of General Court of European Court of Justice) in Brussels, Belgium, is likely to be heard any time this year. Britain has intervened in support of EU in resisting the sanctions challenge filed by Prosecutor-General Mr Johannes Tomana on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe.

The EU is understood to be relying entirely on newspaper and Internet articles to support its claims of human rights violations by Government.

“The law requires the EU to rely on credible independent evidence from public institutions or national authorities such as court records to sustain its claims of human rights abuses, not nameless stories whose correctness and veracity cannot be tested in a court of law,” said a Harare lawyer who preferred anonymity.

“Newspaper articles cannot be the basis upon which you can found a case that requires credible evidence.”
Mr Tomana said the EU needed a miracle to successfully fend off the lawsuit.

“Without going far, it is clear that EU does not have jurisdiction over Zimbabwe. They (EU) do not have a defence against us. We have very good prospects of success in this matter,” said Mr Tomana. Another legal expert said a general legal principle requires that evidence should be led which is sufficient to constitute a defence.

“Clearly, if the EU basis for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe is on third party reports, that will be inadequate to constitute a defence to the claims by Zimbabwe that the economic embargo is illegal,” said the lawyer.

According to the EU, the open source documents filed with the court provide the material on which reasons for putting the cited individuals on the sanctions list is based.

The EU will rely on stories on Zimbabwe published by newspapers like the Guardian (UK), the Independent (UK), the New York Times, The Zimbabwean and other publications sympathetic to the opposition MDC-T.

In the case of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Secretary Mr George Charamba, CIO director-general Happyton Bonyongwe, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, among others, the EU will rely on an article published on www.independent.co.uk under the heading “Global net closes on Mugabe’s gang” and other newspaper articles.

Vice President Joice Mujuru and Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Saviour Kasukuwere’s names appear in the article “Mugabe rewards merchants of death”, published by The Zimbabwean newspaper. The report will be used as evidence against them.

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