BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 17 May, 2002, 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK
Zimbabwe police chief flouts EU ban
Zimbabwean police officers
Zimbabwe's police have been accused of widespread abuses
test hello test
By Fergal Keane
BBC special correspondent

BBC News has learned that the head of Zimbabwe's police force has been allowed to visit France despite a travel ban imposed as part of international sanctions against President Mugabe and his senior officials.

A leading British MP has condemned the decision to allow the official, Augustine Chihuri, to attend an Interpol Conference in the city of Lyon.

Augustine Chihuri
Mr Chihuri is still a vice-president of Interpol
Augustine Chihuri is a key member of Robert Mugabe's inner circle.

As commissioner of police he has been implicated in widespread human rights abuses.

Because of this, Mr Chihuri is among leading government officials subject to so-called "smart sanctions" by the EU and the United States.

Central to these is a ban on travel, but BBC news has learned that not only was Mr Chihuri allowed to enter the EU, he attended an executive conference of Interpol, the international policing body.

EU consulted over visit

Diplomatic sources in Paris said Mr Chihuri had been allowed to visit Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, only after consultation with other EU members including Britain.

In London a Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that Britain had been consulted and said members of the Interpol executive were allowed to travel without restriction because of an international agreement which pre-dated the sanctions.

The chairman of the UK parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee Donald Anderson said he was appalled by the news.

He said Britain should have ordered its representative on the executive to boycott the meeting.

Mr Chihuri's visit and a recent trip to the UN in New York by Mr Mugabe place a major question mark over the effectiveness of the sanctions for which Britain lobbied so vehemently.

If the hope was to isolate the Harare government, the sanctions are quite simply, not working.

Interpol has refused to comment on the affair - Mr Chihuri is still a vice-president of the organisation which stresses respect for human rights as one of its core values.

See also:

18 Feb 02 | Business
Will sanctions work?
27 Apr 00 | Africa
Police clampdown in Zimbabwe
15 May 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe 'evicts squatters'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories