Foreign minister hits out July 6, 2005

New Zealand asks for Zimbabwe ban from internationals


Phil Goff: 'The appalling human rights abuses taking place in Zimbabwe cannot be ignored' © Cricinfo

New Zealand's foreign minister has asked cricket's world governing body to ban Zimbabwe from international tours because of what he called human-rights abuses by Robert Mugabe's government.

The New Zealand team is currently scheduled to tour Zimbabwe from next month and cannot cancel the tour without incurring a fine of at least US$2 million. "New Zealand Cricket may therefore be forced into a situation of having to tour Zimbabwe even if its members have moral objections to having to play cricket while, just kilometres from the grounds, people are having their homes destroyed and their basic human rights abused," Phil Goff, the foreign minister, said in a letter to the International Cricket Council.

In the letter released today, Goff asked the ICC to exclude Zimbabwe because of its demolition of thousands of shacks and other homes that has left at least 200,000 people homeless. "The appalling human-rights abuses taking place in Zimbabwe cannot be ignored," Goff said. "We are gravely concerned for the well-being of the people of Zimbabwe, and believe that it is extremely difficult to justify sporting tours going ahead in such circumstances."

He also asked the ICC to change its rules to allow any country to cancel a tour if gross human-rights abuses were occurring in the other country involved. The request had the overwhelming support of New Zealand parliamentarians and of the Australian government, he added.

At its annual meeting last week, the ICC indicated it did not intend to change its rules to allow the New Zealand tour to Zimbabwe to be cancelled.