Biti's deportation from Zambia was illegal

Biti's deportation from Zambia was illegal
Published: 10 August 2018 (181 Views)
THE United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) have raised the red flag over the alleged illegal deportation, arrest and persecution of opposition MDC Alliance co-principal Tendai Biti and called on Zimbabwean authorities to guarantee his safety after his bid to get asylum in neighbouring Zambia collapsed.

Biti skipped the border to Zambia on Wednesday, but the Edgar Lungu-administration denied him asylum and handed him back to Harare yesterday morning, despite a court order barring his deportation.

The former Finance minister, who is facing two counts of unlawfully and unofficially announcing results of the July 30 harmonised elections and another one of public violence, was yesterday granted $5 000 bail by a Harare magistrate with stringent conditions. His lawyers indicated that they would challenge circumstances surrounding his arrest today.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed concern over the decision by Lusaka to hand over a politician who has expressed an intention to seek asylum to his country of origin.

"Refoulement of forcibly returning refugees and asylum-seekers to their country of origin is a serious violation of international refugee law. The UNHCR calls on Zambia to investigate this reported incident urgently," the UNHCR statement read.

The EU delegation, heads of mission of EU member states present in Harare and the heads of mission of Australia, Canada, and the United States, in a joint statement yesterday also condemned the targeting of opposition politicians in a post-election crackdown.

"The heads of mission of the EU, Australia, Canada and the United States are deeply disturbed by continuing reports that opposition supporters are being targeted by members of the Zimbabwean security forces," the statement read.

"The heads of mission urgently call on the government of Zimbabwe to guarantee the physical integrity and safety of Mr Biti, to ensure that his constitutional and human rights are respected, and that he will be treated in full accordance with the rule of law."

The EU has not publicly endorsed Mnangagwa as the winner of the July 30 polls, and in its preliminary report, poked holes into Zimbabwe's electoral system with a comprehensive report expected in due course.

The British embassy in Zimbabwe also said it was monitoring the developments closely and had been in touch with both Zimbabwe and Zambia to seek clear assurance on the safety of Biti and the full respect of his constitutional rights.

- newsday

Tags: Biti, court, EU,
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