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Zimbabwe Justice Minister Calls Human Rights NGOs Western Tools

Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa went on the offensive in Geneva this week, charging in a United Nations forum that nongovernmental organizations in his country are fronts for foreign powers aiming to destabilize the country.

Chinamasa delivered his scathing attack on NGOs on Wednesday at the inaugural session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, the successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights. Though Zimbabwe sat on that predecessor panel, Chinimasa said it was a tool of developed Western nations seeking regime change in Zimbabwe.

Chinimasa said such countries use the human rights NGO community to channel what he called “dirty money” intended to undermine Third World governments that take an "independent line in international affairs.” The minister called upon the Human Rights Council to prohibit direct funding of local NGO’s operating in the field of human rights and governance, and that all such funding should flow through UN channels.

Zimbabwe has been accused of violating human rights, leading the United States, the European Union and other Western countries to restrict the travel and target the economic interests of senior government and ruling party officials.

Chinimasa told the UN panel that Harare would submit legislation in parliament within six months to amend the constitution soon to establish a human rights commission.

For a response to Chinimasa’s allegations on NGOs, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to leading human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.

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