The government threatened today to retaliate against the United States for refusing to allow a boy alleged to have been abused by his diplomat father to be returned to his family in Zimbabwe.
Foreign Minister Nathan Shamuyarira issued a statement calling for the immediate unconditional release of 9-year-old Terence Karamba "from the hands of his abductors."
Terence was taken into welfare care after teachers at his school noticed bruises they attributed to severe beating by his father and reported the case to welfare authorities.
New York courts have turned down requests for the child to be handed over to the head of Zimbabwe's U.N. mission so he could be sent back home, where the government has promised him protection under the country's laws.
"In total and arrogant disregard of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which protects the rights and interests of diplomatic persons the world over . . . and in violation of the host country agreement . . . the New York State courts authorized the abducting and continued detention of children of a diplomat," Shamuyarira said.
The father, Lloyd Karamba, was an administrative officer at Zimbabwe's U.N. Mission but left the United States after the dispute over his children developed.
The minister said one of Karamba's daughters had also been "abducted" but released on Dec. 23 without any reason being given.
Shamuyarira said: "The Zimbabwe government, which has been scrupulous in its observance of international law and relevant diplomatic conventions, reserves its right to retaliate or reciprocate these acts of affront against its sovereignty and dignity."
He said Zimbabwe appreciated that President Reagan and the State Department wanted the child sent home but it was the duty of the U.S. government to ensure Terence's speedy release.
Relations between the socialist government of President Robert Mugabe and the United States have been strained for a long time. Political analysts said the present dispute could plunge them to a new low.