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The Human Rights Commission (HRC) strongly condemns the killing of the wife of a police officer by suspected armed robbers yesterday in Makeni Villa, Lusaka, as the act constitutes a grave violation of the right to life of the deceased.

The Commission also condemns in the strongest terms the attack on Sergeant Billy Simwamba’s family that resulted not only in the death of his wife, but also in his wounding together with his brother who sustained multiple injuries resulting into their hospitalisation.

The deprivation of the right to life is in violation of international and regional human rights instruments as well as the Bill of Rights of the Zambian Constitution, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia which guarantees the right to life under Article 12.

It is also regrettable that police officers who work tirelessly and under very difficult conditions to protect the lives and properties of other people are made to pay with the lives of their beloved ones and have their own lives endangered for carrying out such noble duty.

The Commission calls upon members of the public to rally behind the Zambia Police Service as it tracks down the three suspected armed robbers who are on the run so that they are brought to book in accordance with the law. There is need to put an end to the continuous attacks on law enforcement officers and innocent civilians.

It is also important for the communities to continue to work together with the police in community policing through long-term partnerships such as neighbourhood watch groups in order to ensure a safe and secure environment for all people to live and enjoy their rights and freedoms without fear of being attacked or robbed by individuals attempting to carry out unlawful activities.

The Commission conveys its condolences to Sergeant Billy Simwamba and the entire family of the deceased and wishes the police officer and his brother quick recovery in hospital.

[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 with an overall mandate and obligation of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted]
 
Issued by:

Simon Mulumbi
Principal Information Officer
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) strongly condemns the killing of the wife of a police officer by suspected armed robbers yesterday in Makeni Villa, Lusaka, as the act constitutes a grave violation of the right to life of the deceased.

The Commission also condemns in the strongest terms the attack on Sergeant Billy Simwamba’s family that resulted not only in the death of his wife, but also in his wounding together with his brother who sustained multiple injuries resulting into their hospitalisation.

The deprivation of the right to life is in violation of international and regional human rights instruments as well as the Bill of Rights of the Zambian Constitution, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia which guarantees the right to life under Article 12.

It is also regrettable that police officers who work tirelessly and under very difficult conditions to protect the lives and properties of other people are made to pay with the lives of their beloved ones and have their own lives endangered for carrying out such noble duty.

The Commission calls upon members of the public to rally behind the Zambia Police Service as it tracks down the three suspected armed robbers who are on the run so that they are brought to book in accordance with the law. There is need to put an end to the continuous attacks on law enforcement officers and innocent civilians.

It is also important for the communities to continue to work together with the police in community policing through long-term partnerships such as neighbourhood watch groups in order to ensure a safe and secure environment for all people to live and enjoy their rights and freedoms without fear of being attacked or robbed by individuals attempting to carry out unlawful activities.

The Commission conveys its condolences to Sergeant Billy Simwamba and the entire family of the deceased and wishes the police officer and his brother quick recovery in hospital.

[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 with an overall mandate and obligation of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted]
 
Issued by:

Simon Mulumbi
Principal Information Officer
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission is saddened by the death of Constable Lenox Kapila who was shot by a fellow police officer identified as Constable Edwin Kabasiya following an argument at Munali Police Post on Friday 4th January 2019.

The Commission condemns the killing of the police officer and regrets that the life of a law enforcement officer could be lost in such a barbaric, cruel and reprehensible manner. It is shocking that a police officer can shoot a fellow police officer on duty for abiding by his professional ethics by declining to attend to a civil case reported by the assailant’s wife, but instead correctly advised the complainant to seek recourse through civil litigation in the courts of law. It is unfortunate that Constable Edwin Kabasiya who was expected to understand the law and the procedure for dealing with civil matters could not take the advice and decided to take the law in his own hands. The Commission is calling for the Zambia Police to ensure that the suspect wherever he may be is apprehended and accordingly prosecuted in the courts of law.
 
The Commission is also deeply concerned at the death of a suspect who was detained at George Police Post in George Compound after being arrested for the offence of burglary and theft. The Commission is calling on the Zambia Police Service to get to the bottom of the unfortunate death of a suspect at the hands of the named police officers and Neighborhood watch officers of George Police Post to ensure that justice prevails and those found wanting are held accountable in accordance with the law.
 
It is the expectation of the Commission that the Zambia Police Service will inform the public about the measures it will take at the end of these investigations to put to an end such inhuman, irresponsible and uncalled for acts by police officers which dent the image of the Service and Zambia’s human rights record and erode public confidence in the Service. A high standard of professionalism and discipline is expected of the Zambia Police in the performance of their duties being the Institution mandated to maintain law and order as well as uphold the Bill of Rights in accordance with Article 193 (2) of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016.
 
[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambian (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 to promote and protect Human Rights in Zambia]

Issued by:


Simon Mulumbi
Principal Information Officer
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission is saddened by the reported case of Veronica Mwamba who was beaten by her husband for making a choice to save money during the New Year celebrations in Lusaka. Sadly, the case of Veronica Mwamba adds to the growing statistics of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the country and is a stark reminder to all stakeholders that economic factors like insufficient income among poor household continue to be a worrying source of domestic disputes which have devastating consequences on women. The Commission is, therefore, calling on Government to take extraordinary measures to empower and protect economically disadvantaged women by increasing their access to finance and creating more opportunities for women to participate in gainful economic activities.

The Commission would like to commend the relatives and friends of Veronica Mwamba who made the effort to report the matter without hesitation to the Police for action to be taken as it is a critical part of the efforts to fight GBV. The Commission is calling on the communities to join forces in the fight against GBV by ensuring that the victims regardless of their sex are not silenced, but encouraged and supported to report GBV cases to relevant authorities.

The Commission also commends the Minister of Gender for the timely reminder to the Zambia Police Service to take the fight against GBV seriously when Veronica Mwamba’s case was brought to her attention. The Commission considers GBV as a serious violation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of men and women whose effect include physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm suffered mostly by women.

The Commission, however, notes with concern that the Minister of Gender directed the
Zambia Police Service to ensure that suspects of GBV cases should not be released on police
 
bond. Over the years, the Human Rights Commission has been implementing the bail/bond reform project aimed at enhancing access to bail/bond for suspects of bailable/bondable offences. One of the key findings of the Commission was that over 80 per cent of the persons in detention were pre-trial detainees with the majority facing bailable/bondable offences for which bail/bond was either denied or granted with stringent conditions. This contributed significantly to overcrowding in police cells and correctional facilities. The Commission considers the denial of police bond/bail premised on any other factors other than the suspects’ failure to turn up at court on the appointed date and time as a violation of the right to protection of the law, particularly the right to presumption of innocence guaranteed under Article 18 (2) of the Constitution of Zambia Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia.

The Commission is therefore calling on the Police to consider granting police bond as a matter of law as provided for under section 33 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code Act Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia which provides that:

“When any person has been taken into custody without a warrant for an offence other than an offence punishable with death, the officer in charge of the police station to which such person shall be brought may, in any case, and shall, if it does not appear practicable to bring such person before an appropriate competent court within twenty-four hours after he was so taken into custody, inquire into the case, and, unless the offence appears to the officer to be of a serious nature, release the person, on his executing a bond, with or without sureties, for a reasonable amount, to appear before a competent court at a time and place to be named in the bond: but, where anywhere any person is retained in custody, he shall be brought before a competent court as soon as practicable. Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, an officer in charge of a police station may release a person arrested on suspicion on a charge of committing any offence, when, after due police inquiry, insufficient evidence is, in his opinion, disclosed on which to proceed with the charge.”

[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambian (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 to promote and protect Human Rights in Zambia]

Issued by:

Simon Mulumbi
Principal Information Officer
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) notes with a sense of encouragement the call by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, for all Zambians to stop stigma against persons with mental impairments made during his visit to Chainama Hills Mental Hospital on New Year’s Day.

The presidential visit and interaction with patients and staff at Chainama Hills Mental Hospital was a great opportunity for the President to have first-hand information and experiences about the unique human rights challenges faced by persons with mental impairments who constitute one of the most vulnerable groups in society.

During the implementation of the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Enhanced Justice Delivery (PLEED), with focus on promoting access to justice for persons in detention and correctional facilities, the Commission visited Chainama Hills Mental Hospital on a quarterly basis in 2017 and 2018. The Commission found that the provision of psychtriatic services continued to be hampered by inadequate infrastructure and accommodation for the increasing number of persons accessing mental health services, among other challenges. There is, therefore, need to decentralise the provision of psychtriatic services to all provincial centres and progressively to all the districts in order to ensure that the services are readily available to all persons accessing mental health services in the country.

It is therefore the expectation of the Commission that the visit by the President to Chainama Hills Mental Hospital on New Year’s Day is a demonstration of the Government’s unwavering commitment to the improvement of mental healthcare and the protection of the rights of persons with mental impairments. The Government has an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of persons with disabilities in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Zambia ratified in 2010 and domesticated through the enactment of the Persons with Disabilities Act No. 6 of 2012. The Commission reiterates its call for the effective and continuous implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act No. 6 of 2012 and full implementation of the National Policy on Disability of 2015.

The Commission agrees with the reminder by the President on New Year’s Day to all the people in Zambia that we should stop stigmatising persons with mental impairments because stigma has harmful effects on their recovery and leads to discrimination and their exclusion in society. There is, therefore, need for concerted efforts by various stakeholders and all individuals towards creating an inclusive society in which all persons with disabilities are free from stigma and discrimination to ensure the full enjoyment of their rights and freedoms.

[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambian (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 to promote and protect Human Rights in Zambia]

Issued by:

Simon Mulumbi
Principal Information Officer
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) notes with a sense of encouragement the call by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, for all Zambians to stop stigma against persons with mental impairments made during his visit to Chainama Hills Mental Hospital on New Year’s Day.

The presidential visit and interaction with patients and staff at Chainama Hills Mental Hospital was a great opportunity for the President to have first-hand information and experiences about the unique human rights challenges faced by persons with mental impairments who constitute one of the most vulnerable groups in society.

During the implementation of the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Enhanced Justice Delivery (PLEED), with focus on promoting access to justice for persons in detention and correctional facilities, the Commission visited Chainama Hills Mental Hospital on a quarterly basis in 2017 and 2018. The Commission found that the provision of psychtriatic services continued to be hampered by inadequate infrastructure and accommodation for the increasing number of persons accessing mental health services, among other challenges. There is, therefore, need to decentralise the provision of psychtriatic services to all provincial centres and progressively to all the districts in order to ensure that the services are readily available to all persons accessing mental health services in the country.

It is therefore the expectation of the Commission that the visit by the President to Chainama Hills Mental Hospital on New Year’s Day is a demonstration of the Government’s unwavering commitment to the improvement of mental healthcare and the protection of the rights of persons with mental impairments. The Government has an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of persons with disabilities in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Zambia ratified in 2010 and domesticated through the enactment of the Persons with Disabilities Act No. 6 of 2012. The Commission reiterates its call for the effective and continuous implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act No. 6 of 2012 and full implementation of the National Policy on Disability of 2015.

The Commission agrees with the reminder by the President on New Year’s Day to all the people in Zambia that we should stop stigmatising persons with mental impairments because stigma has harmful effects on their recovery and leads to discrimination and their exclusion in society. There is, therefore, need for concerted efforts by various stakeholders and all individuals towards creating an inclusive society in which all persons with disabilities are free from stigma and discrimination to ensure the full enjoyment of their rights and freedoms.

[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambian (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 to promote and protect Human Rights in Zambia]

Issued by:

Simon Mulumbi
Principal Information Officer
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) welcomes the acquittal by the Magistrate Court of six (6) Human Rights Defenders who were charged with a case of holding an illegal assembly and calls on the Zambia Police Service to abide by the constitution and other laws when administering the Public Order Act (POA).

The acquittal of Ms. Laura Miti, Mr. Sean Tembo, Mr. Fumba Chama, Mr. Bonwell Mwewa, Mr. Lewis Mwape and Ms. Mika Mwambazi by Principal Resident Magistrate,  Mwaka Mikalile, buttressed previous court judgements and the widely held public knowledge that the police were abusing their authority in the administration of the POA.

The Commission wishes to acknowledge the positive efforts by the Judiciary  in consistently providing guidance on the need to respect and protect the right to freedom of assembly as enshrined by Article 21 of the Constitution of Zambia and other regional and international human rights instruments to which Zambia is a party.

Regrettably, the guidance and counsel by the Judiciary to the Executive through at least three landmark judgements on the police violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of assembly has continued to be disregarded since the Supreme Court Ruling in the Christine Mulundika and 7 Others Vs. the People [SCZ Judgement No.25 of 1995] case of 1995.

It is important to note that the Police are Agents of the State. As a result, the violation of the rights of individuals by the Police constitutes the governance and human rights record of  the country in general and, in particular, the legacy of those in authority. Therefore, the Executive is expected to be deeply concerned at the Police conduct that undermines respect for the Rule of Law, Human Rights and Constitutionalism.

The Judiciary has always been playing its rightful role in protecting the right to freedom of assembly. There is however need for the Judiciary to start condemning the State to damages for malicious prosecution in order to end impunity.

The Executive must equally start playing its rightful role by providing executive and administrative guidance to the police aimed at enhancing good governance and human rights record  of the country.

The Commission is aware that during the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day on 10th December 2018, President Edgar Lungu, through the speech read on his behalf by the Vice Republican President, Ms. Inonge Wina, directed the Minister of Justice, Mr. Given Lubinda to expedite the process of amending and enacting the revised POA

The case of the six human rights defenders and the subsequent judgement could not have come at a better time than now when the Government is in the process of reviewing and amending the POA. There is now further judicial evidence of unlawful and discriminatory application of the POA against individuals holding divergent or dissenting views. It is hoped that the judgement will inform the POA reform process and enhance the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of assembly and associated rights.

It is the desire of the Commission, and indeed in line with the Government’s international commitment through the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review, that the revised POA will be tabled in parliament for enactment during the first quarter of 2019.

The Government does not only have an opportunity but has the authority to ensure that the POA is appropriately amended and applied in a manner that is consistent with human rights and multiparty and pluralistic democratic principles.

It was high time practical steps were taken to promote and protect an inclusive democratic system of governance as demanded and cherished by the majority of Zambians who overwhelmingly voted to end the oppressive one party system of government in 1991.

The exercise of the right to freedom of assembly is a critical governance issue as it enables divergent views to contribute to better governance of a country and improved service delivery by fostering accountability and transparency in public affairs.

 [The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambian (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 to promote and protect Human Rights in Zambia]
 
Mweelwa Muleya (+260 977 871207)
Spokesperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

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The mission of the Human Rights Commission is to promote and protect human rights for all people in Zambia through investigations of human rights violations, rehabilitation of victims of human rights abuses, education of communities and advocacy for policy and legal changes influenced by evidence based research

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