Human Rights Watch on Friday called on the European Union to maintain its sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle, contrasting with the call by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, for their removal by the West.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has continued to abuse human rights and to violate the power-sharing pact that Mr. Mugabe signed in 2008. It said the EU would risk reinforcing the behavior of the former ruling party if it were to relax sanctions at this point.
The advocacy group said members of Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change continue to be abducted and killed, farm invasions continue and there has been little progress restoring the rule of law.
It added that government-owned companies subject to EU sanctions such as the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation are involved in mining diamonds in eastern Zimbabwe where there have been “rampant human rights abuses by soldiers" including killings, rape, beatings, smuggling and corruption.
Human Rights Watch Africa Advocacy director Jon Elliot told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere it is important that sanctions remain in place to show Mr. Mugabe that he must halt human rights abuses.
But Ozias Tungwarara, director of the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said Europe should consider gradually easing sanctions to encourage ZANU-PF to reform, particularly as human rights abuses have markedly declined over the past year.