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EU To Widen Zimbabwe Sanctions To Include State Security Officials

The European Union says it is expanding its list of Zimbabweans subject to targeted sanctions to include police and security officials alleged to have engaged in human rights abuses, in a move that sets the stage for possible future prosecution.

EU foreign ministers gathered in Luxembourg on Monday issued a statement saying the sanctions would be extended to “those responsible for Zimbabwe’s crisis of governance and abuses of human rights.”

Zimbabwe also seems unlikely to benefit from a 374 million euro fund inaugurated to fund African infrastructure such as roads, power plants, water systems and advanced telecommunications networks.

Western diplomats said an expanded list would include court officials as well as state agents implicated in beatings of opposition figures such as Movement for Democratic Change founding president Morgan Tsvangirai and civic activists.

Early this month a United Nations Special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions warned Zimbabwean state security officials not to use lethal force against opposition members. "The Government is, in effect, instructing its forces to shoot innocent people, in complete disregard for the right to life," said Philip Alston.

Human rights groups in Zimbabwe welcomed the EU move to expand sanctions.

Attorney Tafadzwa Mugabe of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a day of judgment will come for those who perpetrate human rights abuses.

Southern Africa advisor Gugulethu Moyo of the London-based International Bar Association said the EU move is positive for the victims of state repression, but said member nations of the Southern African Development Community must also be firm on Harare for such sanctions to be effective.

Despite such international pressure, opposition sources said officials and activists continue to be abducted by state agents and tortured with the complicity of the police. The government has blamed the MDC for engaging in acts of "domestic terrorism" in firebombing police posts and other targets, a charge the MDC has rejected.

Alec Muchadehama, a lawyer for the MDC faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai, said party employee Dennis Murira and deputy organizing secretary Morgan Komichi, both abducted last Friday, were severely tortured while in police hands.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe..