Members of the Press

The Commission has invited you to this Press Briefing on the summary findings of its independent investigations  to  the  shooting  to  death  of  Mr.  Nsama  Nsama  Chipyoka,  former  National Prosecution Authority (NPA) Prosecutor and Mr. Joseph Kaunda who was a sympathizer of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

As you already aware, the two were shot dead on 23rdDecember 2020 between 10:00 hours and 11:00  hours  in  Lusaka, during  the  violent  dispersal of UPND supporters who  had  accompanied their leader,Mr.  Hakainde  Hichilema,  to  offer  him  solidarity  when  he appeared  at  Police Headquarters for questioning.

Following the fatal incident, the Commission on its own volition, instituted its own independent investigations.

1.0 The Commission’s Investigations

The investigations into the shooting incident were instituted in accordance with the Commission’s constitutional and statutory mandate. Pursuant to Article 230 (3) of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016, the Commission is mandated to, inter alia, investigate and report on the observance of rights and freedoms and to take necessary steps to secure redress for victims of human rights violations or abuses. Furthermore, Section 10(1) of the Human Rights Commission Act, Chapter 48 of the Laws of Zambia empowers the Commission to investigate any human rights violation(s) or abuses by instituting investigations under the following circumstances–“(a) on its own initiative; or (b) on receipt of a complaint or allegation under the Act by –(i) an aggrieved person acting in such person’s own interest; (ii) an association acting in the interest of its members; (iii) a person acting on behalf of an aggrieved person; or (iv) a person acting on behalf of and in the interest of a group or class of persons to institute investigations.”

The Commission wishes to acknowledge that, while its investigations were underway, it also received a formal complaint letter from the UPND President Mr. Hakainde Hichilema on the alleged police shooting to death of Mr. Nsama Nsama Chipyokaand Mr. Joseph Kaunda on 23rdDecember 2020.

1.1 Objectives of the Investigations

 The inquiry sought to:

  1. Examine the circumstances under which the fatal shootings occurred and to determine whether there was violation of any of the rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights under the Zambian Constitution, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia particularly the right to life guaranteed under Article 12 and the freedom of assembly and association guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution;
  2. Establish whether it was justified for the Police to use live ammunition against the alleged protesters and whether, therefore, the killings qualified for excusable homicide to diminish criminal liability of the person(s) that fired the fatal bullets;
  3. Establish whether the use of force was authorized by a superior officer proclaiming the situation as a riot requiring the use of firearms in compliance with Sections 77 and 78 of the Penal Code Act, Chapter 87 of the laws of Zambia, and whether the use of fire power was the only and ultimate option available to the police;
  4. Establish whether the use of force by the Police was in accordance with our national legislation as well as the international norms namely, the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers adopted on September 7 1990, herein referred to as the “Basic Principles”;
  5. Find out whether the Police officers took any measures to decrease the risk of unnecessary harm especially that the shooting occurred near public buildings and a restaurant where the risk of harm to innocent people was highly probable; and
  6. Make the necessary recommendations on how to redress the problem as well as to prevent further or similar future incidences, as well as the prosecution or punishment of those found culpable, if any, and also the compensation of the family of the deceased by the state.

1.2 Investigations Methodology

The Commission’s investigations involved a visit to the scene of the shooting, personal interviews with eye witnesses, relatives to the deceased persons as well as the Police authorities. The Commission also interviewed persons that witnessed the autopsy (postmortem) examination of the deceased persons which autopsy reports were not availed to the Commission at the time of carrying out the investigation despite a formal request to that effect. In addition, the Commission considered the applicable international, regional and domestic human rights standards relating to the protection of the right to life and the circumstances when the right to one’s life may be taken away without violating the Constitutional guarantee of the right.Specifically, the Commission examined relevant provisions of the Constitution of Zambia, the Zambia Police Act, the Penal Code Act as well as the Basic Principles in the Use of Firearms by Policing Agencies which were adopted by the by United Nations Member States.

2.0 The Commission’s Findings

The findings of the Commission’s investigations aresummed up, as follows:

 2.1 The Police killedMr.Nsama Nsama Chipyoka and Mr. Joseph Kaunda

  1. The Commission’s investigations established that there was violation of the right to life by Agents of the State which amounts to extra-judicial killing.
  2. The findings of the autopsy conducted on the remains of the deceased persons by a State Pathologist confirmed that Mr. Nsama Nsama Chipyoka and Mr. Joseph Kaunda died from bullet wounds. The source of the fatal bullet was identified as a rifle firearm. It is the Commission’s opinion that the said firearm fired from west to east direction of Cabinet Office premises. 
  3. The evidence recorded from witnesses and the Commission’s own scene visit corroborated with the findings of the autopsy pointing to police officers who were stationed near Cabinet Office as having been responsible for firing the fatal bullet.
  4. It was observed that the bodies of the two deceased persons were found lying about ten (10) meters apart and directly adjacent to each other near the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) offices, giving a strong likelihood that they were killed by one bullet.
  5. Mr. Nsama Nsama Chipyoka was shot whilst standing at the main entrance to LAFE Restaurant near the NPA offices, whereas Mr. Joseph Kaunda was hit by the bullet as he was walking along the road separating LAFE Restaurant and NPA offices.
  6. According to the preliminary findings of the State Pathologist, Mr. Nsama Nsama Chipyoka) was shot on his right side of the chest through the fourth (4th) rib and the bullet perforated the upper part of his heart then liver and lungs before coming out of the body through the area between the 7thand 8thribs. No bullet was found in the body of Mr. Nsama Nsama Chipyoka. It was concluded that the deceased died of injury to the vital organs caused by a sharp object that pierced the heart, the lungs and liver. He suspected that the affected organs were pierced by a bullet, and on closer examination concluded that a rifle was used.
  7. On the other hand, the late Mr. Kaunda was shot on his head. The bullet entered through the right part of his head just above the right ear and was found lodged on the left part of the head. On the part where the bullet was lodged, the skull had cracks and that resulted in traumatic shock that killed the victim. There was no other part of the body that had any injury that could cause death of the victim.The bullet found in the head of Mr. Joseph Kaunda was deformed on its tail end. From this, the Doctor concluded that before the bullet went into the head of the deceased, it could have hit or passed through some object thereby reducing its power. Considering that the bodies of the two deceased persons lay about ten (10) meters apart and directly adjacent to each other, there was a strong likelihood that the two victims were killed by one and the same bullet.

2.2 The Police Command gave orders to inter alia fire live bullets

  1. The Commission found that the orders given by the Police Command were directly linked to the indiscriminate use of live ammunition, the discharge of tear smoke, the display of warfare tactics and the excessive use of force by the Police that was witnessed on the day of the shooting incident.
  2. Witnesses informed the Commission that former Lusaka Province Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nelson Phiri, gave orders to police officers to fire at the people that had gathered. On the orders of the former Lusaka Province Commissioner of Police, police officers started firing gunshots and tear gas canisters indiscriminately.
  3. The officers on an armoured police vehicle were the first to fire live gun shots before a sporadic gun fire ensued leading to the shooting incident in which the two deceased men were caught up in the crossfire and killed in the process.

 The Commission wishes to stress that, in line with Principle number 26 of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, obedience to superior orders shall be no defence if the law enforcement officer or officers knew that an order to use force and firearms resulting in the death or serious injury of a person was manifestly unlawful and had reasonable opportunity to refuse to follow it. In any case responsibility rests on the superior who gave the unlawful orders.

2.3 The indiscriminate use of force and live ammunition by the Police was alarming

  1. The Commission’s investigations revealed that Police fired teargas canisters and live ammunition to disperse an unarmed crowd that had gathered at the Police Headquarters to offer solidarity to the UPND President, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, when he was summoned by the Police.
  2. Several witnesses informed the Commission that there was no riot proclamation declared to warn the crowd to disperse prior to the use of force and live ammunition by the Police.
  3. As a result, there was commotion when the Police charged towards the crowd as people scampered in all directions while heavily armed police officers patrolled the area between the High Court and Cabinet Office.
  4. Some armed police officers closed up on UPND sympathizers who had gathered peacefully near the High Court premises and started firing live ammunition indiscriminately while discharging tear gas canisters at the crowd.
  5. The Commission had itself also witnessed the police firing tear smoke canisters, physically chasing individuals around Cabinet Office area and heard sounds similar to those of live bullets at the time the shooting incident took place.

2.4 Comments by some members of the Executive may have contributed to police violence on unarmed citizens

A few days before the fatal shootings, the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon Stephen Kampyongo, MP issued a statement warning that no person or groups of persons would be allowed at or near the premises of the Zambia Police Service Headquarters where the opposition leader would appear for interviews. He warned that those who would defy the order would be met with police force.

Lusaka Province Minister Hon. Bowman Lusambo,MP specifically directed the Lusaka Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nelson Phiri to deal with anyone who would offer solidarity to Mr.Hichilema. During the virtue 2020 4th Quarter Provincial Development Co-ordinating Committee (PDCC) meeting which he was chairing on 22ndDecember 2020, Mr. Lusambo directed as follows: “Let me take this opportunity through you Permanent Secretary, to Lusaka Police Commissioner if he is here or if his representative is here, Mr. Nelson Phiri, that tomorrow, I don’t want any noise in Lusaka Province or Lusaka District. I have heard that there are some people who are planning to come to Lusaka, to offer solidarity to the suspect who has been called by the police. I want to urge you, and I direct you Commissioner of Police Lusaka Province that police have only called one person, they have only called one person, and we expect only one person to come alone. And if they want to come bring confusion, you know your job very well, you know your job very well”.

The Commission strongly believes that such statements from some members of the executive could have contributed to arbitrary action by the police which resulted into the shoot to death of the duo.

2.5 There was blatant violation of the right to freedom of assembly

  1. The use of excessive force by the Police in the name of maintaining law and order violated the Constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of assembly and was inconsistent with the Constitutional mandate of the Zambia Police Service of upholding the Bill of Rights as enshrined under Article 193 (2) (e) of the Constitution of Zambia [Amendment] Act No. 2 of 2016.
  2. There was no justification for the Police to use force and firearms to disperse an assembly of people who were peaceful and unarmed.
  3. Even if an assembly may have been considered to be illegal or a violation of the principles of law and order, it did not warrant the use of excessive force in the manner that the Police handled UPND sympathizers who were offering their solidarity to their party President when he was summoned at Police Service Headquarters.
  4. The Commission is cognizant of the fact that the Police are by law authorized to use force and firearms in particular circumstances and only under conditions of absolute necessity and in accordance with the principle of proportionality, while paying due regard to the respect for human life as a fundamental human right. Thus, it is a solemn duty of the Police to protect life and property in all circumstances while maintaining law and order.
  5. It has been established that there was a violation of people’s right to peaceful and free assembly. The crowd that had gathered at the Police Headquarters was largely peaceful and did not disrupt any business or obstruct traffic or breach public order. Those that had gathered were therefore within the purview of their fundamental right to freedom of assembly guaranteed under Article 21(1) of the Constitution of Zambia. To proceed to disperse the crowd in the manner the Police did, therefore, amounted to a debasement of people’s democratic and constitutional right to exercise their freedom of assembly.
  6. The right to freely assemble and to even demonstrate is integral to democracy and human rights. Even if acts of violence do occur during these events participants retain their rights to bodily integrity and other rights such that force may not be used except in accordance with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality. Firearms may never be used simply to disperse an assembly.

3.0 General and specific observations

  1. More generally, the Commission is concerned that there has been a growing trend by Police to kill lead to the identification or point out the actual persons responsible for the killings, but rather prefer that investigations take a friendlier route of Inquests. The record so far as inquests are concerned indicate that inquests have rarely pointed to particular person or groups as culpable but have rather declared open verdicts-that a violation was committed and that State agents were responsible. Without downplaying the important judicial function that inquests serve, it would however be desirable that in the interest of justice, the growing levels of impunity in the Police service be curbed by prosecuting the main culprits involved in the killing of innocent civilians as recommended by independent bodies such as the Human Rights Commission. However in this matter the need for an inquest did not and does not arise because the Zambia Police investigations have led to the arrest of the alleged shooter and he has since started appearing before the Courts of the law to answer charges that have been laid against him.
  2. The desire by the Executive wing of government to suppress the right to freedom of assembly for individuals holding different views, especially the opposition parties that seem to offer effective competition is the root cause of a growing pattern of extra-judicial killings and other acts of gross human rights violations and must stop.
  3. Zambia is a constitutional multi-party democracy and pluralistic society in which various interest groups should have space to participate in the governance of the country within the provisions of the law.
  4. As the country counts down to 2021 general elections and beyond, the Commission expects that the right to freedom of assembly and its interdependent rights of association, expression and movement will be guaranteed by the state.

4.0 Recommendations and Conclusions

 In view of its findings, the Commission makes inter alia the following recommendations:

  1. That former Commissioner of Police for Lusaka Province Mr. Nelson Phiri must be jointly charged with the case of murder together with the subordinate police officer or police officers who took his orders to shoot Mr. Nsama NsamaChipyoka and Mr. Joseph Kaunda;
  2. That the estates of the deceased be adequately compensated by the State.
  3. The Zambia Police Service should desist from the apparent criminalization of the right to freedom of assembly and movement; and
  4. The Zambia Police Service should also desist from taking actions which are likely to result in the gross violation of human rights such as extra-judicial killing, arbitrary arrests and detentions and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of participants in assemblies whether lawful or not.

The Human Rights Commission expresses concern over the reports about the attempt by suspected Patriotic Party (PF) cadres to disrupt the broadcasting of a paid radio programme where Democratic Party (DP) President Mr. Harry Kalaba featured in Mporoko District.

The violent acts of the cadres captured in a recorded video circulating on social media where they were harassing DP officials and stormed the radio station to stop live broadcasting of a programmes featuring the DP leader are extremely unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest sense of word as such acts of lawlessness should not be allowed to continue in a democratic country like Zambia, especially at this crucial moment when the campaign period is underway as country draws closer to the presidential and general elections on 12th August 2021.

The enjoyment of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression is at the heart of holding peaceful and fair elections as respect for these fundamental rights and freedoms guarantees a level playing field for all the candidates and a conducive environment for the voters to exercise their right to vote.

The Commission is extremely concerned that party cadres have continued with impunity to storm radio stations with intentions to disrupt live programmes featuring opposition party leaders and have been left scot free. This unfortunate situation sends a wrong message to would-be offenders and gives an impression that the party leadership endorses the violent actions of their members for failing to take disciplinary action against them.

The Commission therefore reiterates its call on the Government and the political party leadership to decisively deal with such acts of violence and lawlessness as they have potential to escalate into widespread political violence and human rights violations and, in turn, destabilise the generally peaceful environment for holding the 2021 general elections.

Issued by:

Simon Mulumbi

The Human Rights Commission wishes to commend the Government for adopting the Legal Aid Bill as part of its efforts towards enhancing equal access to justice in line with the National Legal Aid Policy of 2018, the Seventh National Development Plan 2017-2021 and the National Vision 2030.

The Government’s decision and efforts to review the Legal Aid Act must be commended because this will allow many poor and vulnerable people who are unable to afford legal services to have access to justice. For the first time, paralegals will be recognized as a professional cadre that will work under the guardianship of qualified legal practitioners to contribute to the efficient and effective delivery of legal aid services at grass root level. This will make access to justice possible particularly for the poor and vulnerable people who have previously been excluded.

Access to justice is a fundamental human right which allows people to seek and obtain a remedy for human rights abuses or violations committed against them and enhances the enjoyment of other human rights including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

In the execution of its constitutional mandate, the Human Rights Commission has continued to receive and record a high number of complaints relating to the violation of secure protection of the rights guaranteed under Article 18 of the Constitution of Zambia, such as the right to a fair trial, the right to be informed of the charge as soon as reasonably practicable, the right to facilities to prepare for one's defence and the right to legal representation, among other rights.

Therefore, the review of the Legal Aid Act will help to reduce the violation of human rights as many people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, have access to legal representation and, in turn, benefit from the provisions of such services which may include securing police bond or bail as the case may be for the suspects facing bailable/bondable offences.

The Human Rights Commission is optimistic that the review of the Legal Aid Act will also go a long way in addressing the issue of overcrowded correctional facilities and police cells and the associated human rights violations arising from keeping suspects and other detainees in inhumane and deplorable conditions. The Legal Aid Bill places a mandatory requirement for the Police and Judicial Officers to inform a suspect or accused person of the availability of legal aid which will enhance their access to justice.

[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 of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted]

Issued by:

Simon Mulumbi

The Human Rights Commission commends President Edgar Chagwa Lungu for commuting sentences of 246 death row inmates in exercise of his powers provided for under Article 97 of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016.

This gesture by His Excellency the President is commendable in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID – 19) as it will help to decongest the Condemned Section at Mukobeko Maximum Security Correctional Facility and impact positively on the right to health of inmates on death throw and ultimately their right to life. The Condemned Section was designed in the colonial era to accommodate only 50 inmates. Before the commutation, the number of inmates was in excess of 400 thereby posing a great risk to the health of the inmates particularly given the second wave of COVID-19 which is said to be spreading quickly and is more deadly.  

In line with its mandate under Section 9 (d) of the Human Rights Commission Act, Chapter 48 of the Laws of Zambia, the Commission has been monitoring correctional facilities to assess the measures that have been put in place to prevent and control the spread of COVID – 19 and has found that overcrowding remains the biggest challenge being faced in the Condemned Section of Mukobeko Maximum Security Correctional Facility and the rest of the correctional facilities countrywide. The problem of persistent overcrowding has made social distancing difficult particularly in the Condemned Section and increased the risk of transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID – 19, among inmates and correctional officers.

Therefore, the commutation of the sentences of 246 death row inmates under the Presidential Prerogative of Mercy is a positive measure that will help to reduce overcrowding in the Condemned Section at Mukobeko Maximum Security Correctional Facility and increase spatial separation among the remaining inmates in line with the recommended World Health Organization (WHO) public health guidelines on responding to COVID-19 and controlling the spread of the infection in prisons.

The Commission has also observed positive measures being taken by the Zambia Correctional Service aimed at improving hygiene, screening, testing, and isolation of cases as well as preventing the spread of COVID – 19 through the restriction of visits by family members and the general public.

However, it is clear from the number of cases that the Zambia Correctional Service has recorded among inmates and correctional officers that such commendable measures have been inadequate to prevent the outbreak of COVID – 19 in the correctional facilities. With 67 COVID – cases reported so far, there is urgent need for strict measures and escalation of interventions in order to control the outbreak before the situation worsens in the correctional facilities.

Further, it is worth noting that Zambia has earned a good human rights record at international level on account of the commendable actions taken by successive Presidents from the Levy Mwanawasa Administration to the current leadership who have consistently used their powers under Article 97 of the Zambian Constitution to suspend death penalty in practice and commute death sentences to life imprisonment.

A de facto moratorium on the death penalty has been in effect since the last executions carried out in 1997 and, as a result, Zambia is considered to be a de facto death penalty abolitionist country by the international community. The recent decision of His Excellency the President to commute the sentences of 246 inmates on death row further maintains Zambia’s status as a de facto death penalty abolitionist country.

It is the Commission’s hope that the country will continue to move with the global tide of death penalty abolitionism and ultimately achieve the abolition of death penalty both in law and in practice. The abolition of death penalty in law does not imply that the offences that attract the death penalty will not be punished. Life imprisonment has often been used worldwide as alternative punishment for offenders who have committed the most serious crimes following the abolition of the death penalty or the implementation of a moratorium on its use.

The Commission, therefore, calls upon the Government to ensure that Zambia moves towards permanently abolishing the death penalty in order to enhance respect for the right to life by taking all the necessary measures, including providing the citizens an opportunity to decide on the issue through a National Referendum as only the people of Zambia have the final say on whether Zambia should maintain the death penalty or not.  

Issued by:

Simon Mulumbi

The Human Rights Commission is deeply disturbed by recent revelations arising from the Auditor General’s report and further scrutiny by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee that defective condoms as well as gloves were distributed to the general public and have been in circulation since September, 2020. This revelation is a serious indictment on the part of the State and greatly undermines its obligation to ensure that every citizen enjoys the highest attainable standard of health.

The right to health is a fundamental human right and an important part of the right to life which has been recognized or articulated in many international human rights treaties which Zambia has ratified including the International Covenant on Economic, Social Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Zambia being a signatory to ICESCR which she ratified on 10th April, 1984 has the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights including the right to health. The ICESCR which is widely considered as the core International Human Rights Instrument on protection of the right to health, recognizes “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” under Article 12.

According to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in their General Comment No. 14 of 2000, “health is a fundamental human right indispensable for the exercise of other human rights.” Therefore, the right to health reinforces the interdependency, interconnectedness and interrelatedness of human rights whether civil and political rights or economic, social and cultural rights. This means that violating the right to health also impairs the enjoyment of other human rights dependent on it, such as the rights to life, to an adequate standard of living, to education or to work.

The implications of violating the right to health are far-reaching for individuals and groups particularly in vulnerable situations, such as women, adolescents, persons with disabilities and persons living with HIV/AIDS who often face significant barriers to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of  health due to discrimination, among other factors.

It is worth to note that the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in their General Comment No. 14 of 2000 emphasized under paragraph 12 that the right to health encompasses the following four pillars: (i) availability; (ii) accessibility; (iii) acceptability and (iv) quality.

Therefore, the full realization of the right to health imposes three core obligations on the State which are:

i. The obligation to respect- this requires States to refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the right to health. In this regard it is the considered view of the Commission that the Government failed in its obligation to respect the right to health by allowing the procurement and distribution of substandard condoms and gloves to the public.

ii. The obligation to protect- this requires States to ensure that private actors conform with human rights standards when providing health care or related services. With regard to the current case of Honeybee Pharmacy, there was an omission on the part of the Government in enforcing laws and regulations
that protect citizens from being supplied with substandard health commodities which violate their enjoyment of the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

iii. The obligation to fulfill – this requires States to adopt appropriate legislative, administrative, budgetary, and other measure to fully realize the right health. It was expected that the State, through its Agencies, including the Ministry Health, Medical Stores Limited and Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority, should have taken measures to effectively regulate the procurement and distribution of quality health commodities to the public. The Commission notes that the potential impact of distributing defective condoms and gloves have lifelong impact which may include the following:

1. Violation of the Right to Life
Owing to the interdependency and interrelatedness of human rights, the distribution of defective condoms and medical kits directly impacts on the protection of the right to life.

2. Violation of the Right to Health
The distribution of defective condoms and gloves has great potential to negatively impact on the enjoyment of the right to health particularly efforts aimed at fighting the AIDS pandemic. There is a huge risk that some people could have contracted HIV/AIDS on account of using such defective medical supplies. It is estimated that the prevalence of HIV among adult’s ages 15 to 59 years in Zambia is estimated at 12.3 %, 14.9 percent among females and 9.5 % among males. This accounts for  approximately 980,000 people living with HIV 1 who may have been exposed to health risks arising from the supply and distribution of the defective medical kits and unsafe medicines. This may reverse the gains made in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and, in turn, impair the enjoyment of the right to health.

3. Efforts to fight COVID – 19 Pandemic undermined
The health workers and other front-line staff in the prevention and control of the spread COVID – 19 pandemic make use of protective gloves among other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and others from contracting COVID – 19. It is worrying that during the time of the deadly COVID – 19 pandemic which is increasing posing a serious public health threat the distribution of defective gloves was allowed potentially undermining the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19

4. Compromised safety of health workers and frontline staff
Health professionals and other frontline staff play a critical role in the realization of the right to health. It is expected that health commodities made available to health workers for their use, such as gloves, should be of high quality and standard in order to guarantee their safety and that of the members of the public. It is of great concern that the Government allowed the distribution and use of substandard gloves in health facilities which undermined the occupational safety of health workers and other frontline staff and, in turn, endangering their lives as well safety of members of the public who could have accessed health service.

5. Impact on sexual reproductive health and rights
The distribution of defective condoms directly impacts on the enjoyment of sexual reproductive health rights considering that the availability and accessibility of quality-assured condoms is are a key component in the fulfilment of sexual
reproductive health and rights in the country. Therefore, the distribution of defective condoms to the public compromised not only the safety of people at risk of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), but also the protection for individuals against unintended pregnancies. It is the responsibility of Government to ensure that quality-assured condoms are available to those who need them and when they need them for their reproductive health needs.

It is important to note that the award of the USD 17 million contract to Honeybee Pharmacy who  supplied substandard health commodities also raises issues of lack of transparency and accountability in the procurement of life-saving drugs and medical supplies.

The Commission calls on the Government to ensure that all those who played a role in facilitating the procurement, supply and distribution of unsafe drugs and medical supplies to the public should be held to account.

The Government should also put in place a strict accountability mechanism and curb corruption in the procurement of medical supplies. This is because corruption is leads to human rights violation.  It severely deprives the State of capacity to meet its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil all the human rights of its citizenry.

The Commission is aware that the Anti-Corruption Commission is already carrying out investigations into the matter which have reached an advanced stage. The Commission wishes to call upon the public to allow for lawfully mandated institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission to carry out their mandate effectively.

Further, it is unfortunate that unsafe drugs and medical kits were allowed to be distributed to the public despite failing the quality test and the authorities failed to act proactively to remove them from circulation in order to protect the citizens’ rights to health and life. Although psychological and other harm have already been occasioned, it is important that the drugs and defective medical kits are immediately withdrawn from market and should be destroyed forthwith.

The Commission is calling upon the Government to ensure that there is effective tracing of, and support to the victims in order to avoid putting their health and that of other people at any further risk. Over  and above, there should be adequate reparations for all victims.
Issued by:

Mudford Z Mwandenga

Following numerous and continued media inquiries, the Human Rights Commission (HRC/ Commission) wishes to confirm receiving a complaint letter from United Party for National Development (UPND) President Mr. Hakainde Hichilema on the alleged police shooting to death of two individuals in the names of Mr. Nsama Nsama and Mr. Joseph Kaunda on 23rd December 2020.

The Commission appreciates and welcomes the detailed letter of complaint and the pledge by the UPND to provide evidence relating to the alleged extra-judicial killings.

As the public may be aware through the press statement issued a few hours after the killings, the Commission was among the first investigative and oversight wings of Government to visit the scene of crime as part of its preliminary investigations.

Therefore, the Commission is on its own volition and in accordance with its constitutional and legislative mandate, already on the ground investigating the alleged extra-judicial killings.

The Commission is as concerned and anxious as other stakeholders such as Mr. Hichilema has demonstrated in his letter of complaint to the Commission to ensure that investigations are undertaken and concluded as soon as possible and ensure that justice is done.

However, the Commission is appealing for the indulgence and patience of the members of the public and stakeholders to allow for impartial and credible investigations into the matter.

Investigations into alleged extra-judicial killings by their nature are complex and as such, are dependent on a number of specialised agencies and experts to ensure that the findings are beyond any reasonable doubt because of the gravity of the prescribed crime and punishment.

Stakeholders and members of the public must be rest assured that as soon as investigations are concluded, the Commission will release the investigations findings as it has always done in the past.

It is the desire and obligation of the Commission to ensure that impunity in the violation of human rights is stopped by identifying and punishing the perpetrators in accordance with the law.

Issued by:

Mweelwa Muleya

The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) calls upon the Government to immediately establish an inquest to establish the identity of individuals responsible for shooting to death of a State Prosecutor, identified as Mr. Nsama Nsama, and a suspected UPND sympathiser identified as Joseph Kaunda, in Lusaka on 23rd December 2020.

Preliminary investigations by the Commission have established that Mr. Nsama, a State Prosecutor working for the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) and Joseph Kaunda, a Kafue based UPND sympathiser were shot dead, about 10 metres from each other near the NPA offices.

Mr. Nsama had just gone across his office to get a snack from a restaurant which is about 20 metres away from NPA head offices while Mr. Kaunda was walking on the road between the said restaurant and the NPA Offices when they were gunned down.

This unfortunate incident happened when the police officers were dispersing people who had gone to offer solidarity to the United Party for National Development (UPND) President, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, who was summoned to Police Force Headquarters.

The Commission witnessed the police firing tear smoke canisters at a peaceful crowd at the High Court Grounds and some officers physically chasing individuals around Cabinet Office area. Some workers in offices near Cabinet Office, including officers of the Human Rights Commission, were choked by the tear smoke in their offices. Gunshot sounds were heard blasting as the police officers dispersed the crowds and some security offices found at the scene intimated to the Commission that the sound was that of live bullets.

The Commission is shocked at the indiscriminate use of live ammunition by the police in an area surrounded by public offices such as Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Justice, the British High Commission, and others including private places such as the Restaurant where the majority of workers around go to eat from.

The unnecessary display of warfare tactics and use of excessive force by the police in the recent past has been unprecedented. The killing of Mr. Nsama is a classic example of the unreasonableness, unjustifiable, unnecessary, reckless and arbitrary use of excessive force by the Zambia Police Service. As a result, lives continue being lost through extra-judicial killings, which is unlawful killing of an individual by the state.

Many have been widowed and orphaned while relatives, friends and colleagues have lost their beloved ones at the hands of state agents, who have continued to go scot free, thereby creating a vicious cycle of impunity. The socio-economic deprivation, the emotional pain and the political tension caused by such gross violation of the right to life are unbearable and the Government has an inescapable obligation to stop that.

The Commission calls upon the Government to create a conducive governance environment anchored on respect for the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights while maintaining law and order in order to protect, and not to eliminate, lives.

The Commission will within its mandate and powers continue investigating the reported extra-judicial killings. However, the Government has a primary obligation to protect human rights of individuals within its jurisdiction, and in this case the right to life has been violated by suspected state agents.

It is for this reason that the Commission is calling upon the Government to establish an inquest in line with the provisions of sections 4 and 28 (1) (c) of the Inquests Act, Chapter 36 of the Laws of Zambia, in order to establish the perpetrators and institute appropriate criminal charges.

Further, the Police Command has an obligation to avail suspected police officers so that they are subjected to the due process of the law.

Issued by:

Mweelwa Muleya (Mr.)

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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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