"The Pope has made a huge error of judgement by inviting and greeting the Zimbabwean President. He should have shunned Mugabe as a public rebuke for his crimes and as a signal of solidarity with his victims,” said human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“President Mugabe should have never been invited in the first place.
“His regime has abused the Christian values of love and compassion. It stands accused of kidnapping, detention without trial, torture, rape and murder.
“President Mugabe belongs in the dock at the International Criminal Court, not in the Vatican being feted by the Pope.
“It is outrageous that the Italian government is not enforcing the EU travel ban on Mugabe.
“Italy has signed UN human rights conventions but is refusing to enforce them against the Zimbabwean dictator. He can come and go as he pleases, with the connivance of Italian leaders.
“What is the point of having human rights laws and travel bans if President Mugabe is allowed to flout them?” queried Mr Tatchell.
Peter Tatchell has twice attempted a citizen’s arrest of the Zimbabwean dictator on charges of torture: in London in 1999 and again in Brussels in 2001. In Brussels he was beaten unconscious by President Mugabe’s bodyguards, resulting in brain and eye injuries.
As well as his general human rights abuses, President Mugabe has incited homophobia, with repeated denunciations and threats against LGBT Zimbabweans; including his claims that gay people are “worse than pigs and dogs” and that they “don’t have any human rights at all.”