The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is a National Human Rights Institution established pursuant to Article 230 of the 1991 Constitution of Zambia as amended by Act No 18 of 1996 and Act No 2 of 2016. The HRC is mandated to ensure that the Bill of Rights is upheld and protected.
The establishment of the HRC followed recommendations to the Government by the Munyama Commission of Inquiry appointed in 1992 to investigate and establish violations of human rights during the second republic (1972 - 1991). The Commission of inquiry proposed the establishment of a Permanent Human Rights Commission that would promote and protect human rights.
In 1996, the Mwanakatwe Constitution Review Commission also proposed the establishment of a Permanent Human Rights Commission. Consequently, the 1991 Constitution (as amended in 1996), enshrined in Part XII, Article 125, the establishment, independence and autonomy of the HRC. Article 126 provided for enabling legislation to encompass the functions, powers, composition, procedures, etc. of the HRC, which is Chapter 48 of the Laws of Zambia (Human Rights Commission Act No. 39 of the Laws of Zambia).
The Constitution as amended by Act No 2 of 2016 establishes the HRC under Article 230 as read together with other provisions including Articles 216, 238, 241 and 242. Article 230 specifically mandates the HRC to:
- investigate and report on the observance of rights and freedoms;
- take necessary steps to secure appropriate redress where rights and freedoms are violated;
- endeavour to resolve a dispute through negotiation, mediation or conciliation;
- carry out research on rights and freedoms and related matters;
- conduct civic education on rights and freedoms; and
- perform such other functions as prescribed.
The function, powers, composition, funding and administrative procedures, including the employment of staff, of the Human Rights Commission are prescribed under the HRC Act, Chapter 48 of the Laws of Zambia.