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Disingenuous US embassy dispels sanctions 'myth' to UN envoy

THE United States embassy in Harare this week met with United Nations special rapporteur on human rights Alena Douhan despite the American government's reservations about the mandate of rapporteurs on unilateral coercive measures.

During the meeting, US embassy chargé d'affaires Thomas Hastings shared the American policy with Douhan and the friendship between the Zimbabwean people and America.
Douhan is in the country at the invitation of the Zimbabwean government on a 10-day mission from 18 October to assess the negative impact of sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights.

According to the embassy, Hastings underscored the "enduring friendship with the Zimbabwean people, dispelled some myths about sanctions", and shared America's efforts to deepen UZ-Zimbabwe trade ties.

During a 15 October Press briefing, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the economic ills in Zimbabwe were as a result of abuse of power by Zimbabwe's leaders and not sanctions.

"… sanctions target human rights abusers and those who undermine democratic processes or facilitate corruption. I want to be very clear that these sanctions do not target the Zimbabwean people. Zimbabwe's economic ills, we know, are caused by leaders, those leaders abusing power, not US sanctions. Our sanctions target only 83 individuals and 37 entities. We review our sanctions list regularly to acknowledge developments in Zimbabwe," Price said.

"US sanctions do make it more difficult for targeted individuals and entities to access funds through the global financial infrastructure. Sanctions do not target Zimbabwe's banking sector, but rather ensure that sanctioned individuals and entities cannot use the US financial system to enjoy their ill-gotten gains. To be very blunt, blaming US sanctions for Zimbabwe's problems detracts from the core issues of better governance that are required in Zimbabwe and, to that end, Zimbabwe must make reforms consistent with its constitution, with its international obligations, and with its other commitments."

The US government has previously rejected the premise of mandate for special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures (UCMs).

In a statement by the Delegation of the United States of America to the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2017, the US stated that it "categorically rejects the entire premise that underlies the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on UCMs".

"The imposition of targeted sanctions does not violate human rights.  In fact, targeted sanctions can be a powerful tool to promote human rights and hold accountable those who violate or abuse human rights," the delegation's statement read.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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