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Barred From Zimbabwe, UN Torture Expert Nowak to Report 'Diplomatic Incident'

A United Nations expert on torture barred entry into Zimbabwe this week despite an earlier invitation to conduct a fact finding mission said Thursday that he will refer what he called an "unprecedented (and) unacceptable" breach of diplomacy to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Austrian human rights lawyer Manfred Nowak had been invited to Zimbabwe by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look into allegations of political violence, but upon reaching Johannesburg was told his mission needed to be rescheduled due to regional consultations in Harare.

Despite this, Nowak told VOA, he was invited to meet Thursday morning with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai but was refused entry to the country upon landing in Harare.

Nowak told reporter Patience Rusere that he considered this to be a breach of diplomatic protocol and would take it up with the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Elsewhere, Amnesty international warned that Zimbabwe is on the verge of sliding back into the political violence that surged after the first round of elections in March 2008, and urged the Southern African Development Community troika on politics, defense and security delegation now in Harare to focus on "deterioration in the human rights situation."

Amnesty International Zimbabwe Researcher Simeon Mawanza told Ntungamili Nkomo that his organization sees the country "on the brink" of a serious surge in violence.

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