Human Rights Watch on Thursday objected to the European Union decision to lift sanctions on some officials of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, saying this will not result in increased respect for human rights but will give the party free rein for repression in the run-up to elections expected this year.
EU diplomatic sources said the bloc will delist 51 ZANU-PF members but maintain travel and financial restrictions on more than 100 other officials including Mr. Mugabe. The EU has reviewed sanctions annually since 2009, when a unity government was formed.
But Human Rights Watch Africa Director Daniel Bekele says easing the sanctions now would send the wrong message and reinforce repression and impunity in Zimbabwe.
ZANU-PF has dismissed the selective delisting, demanding the wholesale removal of the European measures.
Lawyer, analyst and Indigenization Ministry adviser Psychology Maziwisa told VOA that the rights watchdog is wrong on Harare’s human rights record.
"These sanctions in the very first place are illegal and designed to replace the progressive government of President Mugabe with one that is amenable to Western interests," he said."The Human Rights Watch statement is simply preposterous."
But commentator Bhekilizwe Ndlovu said the piecemeal removal of sanctions is appropriate to encourage reform and divisions within ZANU-PF.