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UN rights chief urges Zimbabwe president to ensure fair elections

The top UN human rights official urged Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Thursday to ensure that Zimbabwe's next elections are legitimate and free from violence [press release]. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive], visiting Zimbabwe for the first time, stated in the press release that her meeting with Mugabe was productive:

It was a very important meeting with President Mugabe, where he recounted to me the past history of Zimbabwe and attributed some of the current problems to the past. I commended the president for making a call that there should be no violence in future elections. I urged him to continue to make such calls. I also urged him to ensure that the future elections will be free and fair and free from violence.
Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold elections within the next year.

The international community has scrutinized Zimbabwe's government recently. Earlier in May, a South African court ordered an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged human rights violations committed by Mugabe's government. The court order derived from legal action brought by human rights groups [JURIST report] attempting to prosecute Mugabe's government for crimes against humanity. In August the BBC reported that Zimbabwe security forces are running illegal mining camps [JURIST report] in the country's Marange area where recruited civilian workers are regularly tortured and forced into labor. According to the report, workers are subject to mauling by dogs, multiple beatings and rape. The camps, one of which allegedly has ties to a personal friend of Mugabe, were reported to have been operating for three years.

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