Monday, September 13, 2010

4 Americans arrested in Zimbabwe over AIDS charity work

Zimbabwe has had a long history of harassing aid groups and charities. In the past, the Zimbabwean government has frozen or stolen funds from aid groups, or just kicked them out of the country.

The latest episode involves a US church mission that runs an AIDS orphanage. Six workers at the orphanage were arrested with accusations of giving out drugs without a license.

From this Associated Press article that we found at Google News, we read more details about the latest harassment.

The six — five Americans and a Zimbabwean — were arrested Friday and have been held at Harare Central police station, where conditions in the cells are notoriously grim. They will appear in court Monday on charges of operating without proper medical licenses, according to their lawyer in Zimbabwe.

Theophous Reagans, a minister at the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California, said by telephone Sunday the church has been working in Zimbabwe for more than a decade and that this is the first time questions over licensing have been raised. He said one of the Americans lives in Zimbabwe, while the others are among church members who visit three or four times a year, paying their own way to help at a home for AIDS orphans the congregation has adopted.

"Our prayer and our hope is that they will be released," after Monday's hearing, Reagans told The Associated Press.

In 2008, at the height of a political crisis in Zimbabwe, the government accused independent aid groups of supporting opposition activists and barred them from distributing aid for three months.

Zimbabwe also has clashed with aid groups over funding. In 2007, Zimbabwe's central bank confiscated U.S. dollars being held in local bank accounts, including about $12 million belonging to the Global Fund, a major international supporter of programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. When the central bank failed to return its money, the Global Fund threatened to cut off aid. Its funds were eventually returned.

Conditions for international aid workers have eased since longtime ruler Robert Mugabe was forced into a power-sharing agreement with his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister last year. The partnership has been strained. Mugabe's supporters continue to be accused of abusing human rights, but Tsvangirai's party has been praised for its administration of key ministries, including health, education and finance.

The Herald, a state-run Zimbabwe newspaper, quoted police as saying the church workers were being questioned about operating an unlicensed clinic and dispensing medicine without a pharmacist's supervision.

"It is our duty to ensure that all clinics and medical institutions are registered for easy monitoring," police spokesman Augustine Zimbili told The Herald. "There is a risk of dispensation of expired drugs. When premises are not licensed, it is difficult to check if (the law) is being complied with."

Jonathan Samukange, the lawyer in Zimbabwe representing the detained church workers, said they have proper licenses and were only supervising a pharmacy that mainly gave out AIDS medications.

1 comment:

Canada Pharmacy said...

As Zimbabwe is really appreciated for doing this work as they should be arrested Americans for harassing aid groups and charities..