This was raised in the House of Commons yesterday by Helen Goodman during a motion to introduce a statutory instrument to regulate sanctions on Zimbabwe when the UK leaves the European Union.
The EU sanctions are currently on former President Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
Although former service chiefs are also on the sanctions list, these continue to be suspended.
“We have only limited sanctions that relate only to President Mugabe and the defence industries. The purpose of the sanctions is to improve the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, but how can they possibly be effective given that Zimbabwe has a new government? “ Goodman asked.
“How can sanctions on a previous regime conceivably affect the new regime? That new regime has been described by some Zimbabweans as a new driver in an old taxi. The situation does not quite make sense.”
She was supported by Peter Grant who said the sanctions should apply to the present government.
“The hon. Lady may be aware that some of those widely believed to be responsible for human rights violations in Zimbabwe under the previous President are still closely associated with the new government,” Grant said.
“Does she agree that if there is evidence that any of those individuals have committed serious violations of the human rights of UK citizens, who have been forced to flee Zimbabwe and come back to the UK as a result, they should also be subjected to sanctions, and that those sanctions should apply until such a time as the UK citizens have been given proper compensation through the courts?”
Goodman said Grant had made an excellent point.
“The hon. gentleman makes an excellent point. There has been a brutal crackdown on protests, with 2 354 violations of human rights, including 17 deaths and 17 rapes. I hope that the Minister will take that into account and tell us what precisely the Government will do to achieve change,” she said.
“I also want to know whether the government’s policy on sanctions is being coordinated with the policy being run by the Department for International Development to tackle the drought. Obviously, sanctions can be tricky when they are against a country delivering aid, as knowing which transactions can pass through and which cannot can be complicated.
“I do not know whether, as well as discussing the sanctions with the European Union, the Minister has been coordinating with the African Union. The current position is that Zimbabwe will not be allowed to rejoin the Commonwealth until it improves its human rights record, but will the Minister please tell us the co-ordination mechanism with the African Union?
“That brings me to my final general point, which I also raised in our last debate on sanctions. How will we co-ordinate with the European Union after we have left? Everybody in this House fully understands that just one country’s sanctions cannot be effective. This only works when we have co-ordination internationally. Sometimes that co-ordination is at the UN level and sometimes, as in the case of these regimes, it is at the European level, but the Minister has not as yet been able to tell us what co-ordination mechanisms the government are planning post Brexit. It would be interesting to know from him what he envisages, both in the scenario of leaving with a deal and in the case of leaving without a deal.”
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