PtG Article 10.08.2006

New Zealand Cricket compensated for government's action on human rights

Last year, the government in New Zealand refused entry visas to a cricket team from Zimbabwe in protest against human rights abuses by Zimbabwe’s government. Now the New Zealand government has agreed to pay New Zealand Cricket compensation to cover losses from the cancelled tour.

According to the New Zealand Press Association, New Zealand Cricket will receive 406,000 NZ$ from the government which is the exact amount that the cricket association had claimed as a fair compensation.

It was a slum clearance program in Zimbabwe that caused the New Zealand government to cancel the visas for the Zimbabwean cricket team. Tens of thousands of people became homeless, and the governments in Australia, Britain and New Zealand all tried to apply pressure on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to sanction Zimbabwe and prevent the country from participating in an international tournament.

The ICC declined, so the New Zealand government ended up applying its own sanctions when it refused to let Zimbabwe’s cricket team into the country.

Announcing the compensation, New Zealand’s Minister of Sport, Trevor Mallard, said that his government had considered it inappropriate to let the Zimbabwean team into the country:

“We made an important stand over this tour in order to send a strong message to Robert Mugabe’s government over its appalling human rights record and continuing abuse of democratic principles,” he said.

The government had no contractual obligation to compensate the national cricket association but nevertheless decided that it was only fair to do so. Originally, New Zealand Cricket was faced with the prospect of loosing up to two million NZ$ from television rights and other incomes but managed to reduce to the losses to the amount of 406,000 dollars.