Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 12:47 GMT
Zimbabwe rubbishes human rights report
Zimbabwe has been criticised for imprisoning two journalists
Zimbabwe says a report criticising its human rights record is "utter rubbish".
The report, put together by an independent think tank, the Foreign Policy Centre, says Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia and Sri Lanka should be expelled from the Commonwealth if they do not improve the treatment of their citizens.
Zimbabwe's response came in comments by the Foreign Minister, Stan Mudenge, to the official Herald newspaper.
"This is ridiculous and utter rubbish. The report was prepared by young toddlers trying to come to grips with important international relations," Mr Mudenge said.
"I saw the report. There was no substance to it and all I did was crumple it and throw it into the trash can. That is where it belongs," he said.
The London-based Daily Telegraph said when it published the report on Monday that it would be released at the forthcoming Commonwealth Summit in South Africa. But Mr Mudenge said that this would not happen.
Independent think tank
It is also alleged to question whether Prince Charles should take over from the Queen as the head of the Commonwealth, and whether the organisation's headquarters should remain in London.
The Telegraph said the report had semi-official status because it had been written in consultation with the Commonwealth's own human rights advisers.
It also calls for a checklist of criteria for membership, which would oblige member countries to hold free and fair elections as well as respecting human rights, said the paper.
The Telegraph also said the report called for the Commonwealth to adopt new powers against countries that failed to live up to its standards, with the appointment of a "good governance commissioner" to police member states.
The report follows the Commonwealth's decision to suspended Pakistan after democracy ended in the country following last month's military coup.