Zimbabwe invites UN expert on torture to visit

GENEVA – Zimbabwe has invited a U.N expert on torture to visit later this month, the first time Harare has issued such an invitation to an independent U.N. Human Rights Council expert, the United Nations said on Friday.

Manfred Nowak, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, will visit Zimbabwe from October 28 to November 4, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

"This mission is a positive sign of the Government of Zimbabwe’s willingness to engage with the U.N. Human Rights System and permit open and unfettered access to places of detention, Nowak said.

The invitation comes during a political crisis, as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition MDC said it would boycott the power-sharing government over differences with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.

Nowak will meet government officials, national human rights institutions and civil society representatives. The Austrian law expert will also inspect prisons and police stations, and present a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.