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Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Zimbabwean nationals normally covered by the travel sanctions imposed by the EU have been granted dispensations to travel to the European Union since the imposing of sanctions; and on what grounds such dispensations were given. [121323]

To the best of our knowledge, 13 Zimbabweans on the EU travel ban list have travelled to the EU since the targeted sanctions were imposed on 18 February 2002:

Robert and Grace Mugabe, Stan Mudenge, Joseph Made, Elliot Manyika and George Charamba: Rome, to attend World Food Summit meetings: 10 to 13 June 2002.
Augustine Chihuri, Police Commissioner: France, to attend meetings of the Interpol Executive Committee: 14–16 May, 18–20 June and 27 August 2002.
Samuel Mumbengegwi, Trade and Industry Minister: Belgium, to attend EU-ACP trade talks: 22–29 September, 9–11 December 2002 and 12–16 May 2003 and to attend an ACP trade ministers meeting 31 July-1 August 2003.
Christopher Kuruneri, Deputy Finance and Economic Development Minister and Paul Mangwana, Minister for Enterprises and Parastatals: Belgium, an EU-ACP conference: 25–28 November.
Francis Nhema, Environment and Tourism Minister: France, UNESCO meeting: on 9–10 January 2003.
Kembo Mohadi, Minister for Home Affairs: Vienna, UN Commission on narcotic drugs: 15–18 April 2003.
Ms Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development: Vienna, UNIDO youth employment summit: 6–9 April 2003.
Paul Mangwana; Belgium. EU-ACP meeting: 7–10 July 2003.
In all cases, the EU country concerned consulted EU partners before issuing visas. The EU's Common Position of February 2002. imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe, specifically allowed member states to grant exemptions where "travel is justified on the grounds of humanitarian need, including religious obligation, or on grounds of attending meetings of international bodies or conducting political dialogue that promotes democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe". This clause was made more explicit when the Common Position was rolled over in 2003, to state that a member state shall grant a visa when it is "bound by an obligation of international law". In all these cases, the EU country in question had a legal obligation to grant visas.In the case of the attendance of Robert and Grace Mugabe and Stan Mudenge at the France-Africa summit in Paris in February 2003, France argued for an exemption to be granted under article 3.3 of the Common Position, where travel is justified on the grounds of conducting political dialogue that promotes democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We did not want Robert Mugabe at the France-Africa summit in Paris. We made this clear to the French Government, at various levels as well as to other EU partners. The meeting took place two days after the EU sanctions on Zimbabwe were due to expire. Our priority then was to ensure a roll-over of those sanctions. The roll-over required a consensus among EU member states. This was achieved on 18 February 2003.