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President Hakainde Hichilema has challenged the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to be proactive in redressing human rights violations and abuse.

When swearing Commissioners at State House on Monday, 27th June, 2022, the President said HRC should not wait for investigations reports, but should proactively engage Law Enforcement Agencies and the Judiciary to redress human rights violations.

The Head of State noted with sadness that the right to access to justice by most vulnerable suspects was one of the mostly violated rights.

Following the swearing in of the Vice Chairperson and four other Commissioners, the composition of HRC is as follows:

1. Mr. Mudford Z. Mwandenga- Chairperson
2. Dr Pamela Towela Sambo- Vice Chairperson
3. Rev. Agnes Chongo-Phiri-Commissioner
4. Rev Canon Yona Chikoya Commissioner
5. Mr. Tom Trever Shamakamba- Commissioner
6. Ms. Laura Mary Mit- - Commissioner
7.Ms. Christine Chama – Commissioner

The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) strongly condemns the ill-treatment of youths suspected to have defamed President Hakainde Hichilema by the Zambia Army officers in Chiengi District of Luapula Province on 15th June 2022.

The Commission is shocked and gravely concerned at the apparent lack of remorse by the Zambian Army as evidenced by the justification of the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of the youths through a media report attributed to the Director General for Civil Military Affairs, Brigadier General Genoh Muke.

Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is absolutely prohibited under international and regional human rights instruments that Zambia is a party to as well as under Article 15 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia. For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission is of the view that even a “few slaps” can and do amount to brutality contrary the position taken by the Zambia Army. It is, therefore, deeply regrettable that the Zambia Army can attempt to justify a violation of the Constitution and human rights, in a democracy such as Zambia.

The Commission wishes to explicitly state that it does not support any form of hate speech such as insulting language, expression of hatred, discrimination and any form of expression that violates the rights and reputation of any individual because that is outside the ambit of freedom of expression and opinion. However, respect for the rule of law, human rights and constitutionalism, which the New Dawn Government espouses to uphold, demands that suspects should be subjected to the due process of the law. In this case, Law Enforcement Agencies are mandated to apprehend or arrest suspects and facilitate their appearance before the courts of law within twenty-four hours or as is reasonably practicable or consider granting them bond as provided for under section 33 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia. It is only the courts of law that are legally mandated to hand down prescribed punishment/s to suspects (which incidentally does not include a “few slaps”) when they are convicted of an offence, as guided by Article 18 of the Constitution.

Finally, the Commission is closely monitoring the case involving the youths with a view of ensuring that their rights to liberty and to secure protection of the law as enshrined under Articles 13 and 18 of the Constitution are upheld and protected.


Mudford Z. Mwandenga
Chairperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the statement by Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, the President of the Republic of Zambia, that Government has taken a decision to abolish the death penalty.

The statement by the President delivered on the eve of Africa Freedom Day inter alia that the Government had resolved to abolish the death penalty and that it will work with the National Assembly to actualize that resolution is a landmark step towards enhancing the promotion and protection of the right to life. Death Penalty constitutes the ultimate and irreversible gross violation of human rights which should never be practiced anywhere in the world in the 21st century.

Zambia has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 1997 when the last executions took place. Zambia is therefore considered a de facto death penalty abolitionist country as it has not implemented the cruel and inhuman practice for more than 10 years which is the internationally recognised threshold for a country to be considered to have abolished the death penalty in practice. By abolishing the death penalty both in practice and law, Zambia will join the increasing global movement in which, a total of 108 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Therefore, the President and his administration are within the ambit of the universally accepted best practices on abolishing the death penalty.

It is the expectation of the Commission that the progressive Presidential pronouncement on abolishing the death penalty will be followed with tangible action on legal reforms. In this regard the Commission is cognizant of the fact that the death penalty is permissible under Article 12 of the Constitution, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia, in the execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the law in force in Zambia of which a person has been convicted. In this regard Section 24 of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia provides that the death sentence is one of the punishments that can be inflicted by a Court for certain offences. Therefore, the policy pronouncement by the President can be actualized through the amendment of penal laws such as the Penal Code Act and indeed the Criminal Procedure Code Act Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia.

Finally, the Commission wishes to commend President Hichilema for pardoning 2,652 inmates and commuting 30 death row sentences to life imprisonment in accordance with powers bestowed on him by Article 97 of the Constitution.

The gesture by the President is an affirmation of Zambia’s transition from retributive to restorative justice and a demonstration of the reason behind the constitutional change in the name of the institution that is mandated to manage the welfare and rehabilitation of inmates from Zambia Prisons Service to Zambia Correctional Service and it is hoped that this will result in rehabilitating of inmates and preservation of lives of those that hitherto have been sentenced to death.

(Original Signed)
Mudford Z. Mwandenga
Chairperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the announcement by the Government that Cabinet had in principle approved the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Public Order Act, Chapter 113 of the laws of Zambia (POA).

The Commission notes that having the POA amended to improve its administration by the Zambia Police Service and subsequently enhance the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of assembly is an integral part of an inclusive democratic system of governance, respect for human rights, rule of law and constitutionalism in Zambia.

The Commission also notes with regret that successive Governments have on numerous occasions expressed the desire and commitment to amending the POA, but there has been no significant progress achieved so far towards meeting that noble objective aimed at ensuring the enjoyment of freedom of assembly is enhanced.

Since the process to enact the Public Order Bill No.12 of 2019 into law failed in 2021, the nation has been anxiously waiting to see the Government table in Parliament a Bill for amendment of the POA.

The Commission hopes that the Bill to amend the POA will be tabled in Parliament as soon as possible because the current Act and its selective application have not been in the interest of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights.

In amending the POA, the Government will also be fulfilling its commitment to implementing one of the 183 recommendations which it accepted during Zambia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of her human rights record at the United Nations in Geneva in 2017.

[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambia [amendment] Act Number 2 of 2016 to ensure that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted].

Issued by:

Mr. Simon Mulumbi
Principal Information Officer

A video, which has been circulated widely on social media, showing the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Gary Nkombo, forcing a woman and her children to drink Kachasu, a local illicit beer, has been brought to the attention of the Human Rights Commission. The Commission finds the Minister’s conduct to be arbitrary and a violation of the woman’s and her children’s human rights.

Forcing of the trio to drink the illicit beer or face arrest amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and was a violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia. The Minister’s conduct further violated the rights of the woman and her children to secure the protection of the law as provided for under Article 18 of the Constitution.

The Commission is concerned that the Minister extended the illegal punishment to the woman’s children, who might possibly be under age and that his conduct amounted to victimisation of suspects.

Brewing or selling prohibited beverages such as kachasu has prescribed penalties under the law and forcing perpetrators to consume the prohibited products is not one of the prescribed punishments and must, therefore, be condemned. The Minister is, accordingly, advised to leave law enforcement to designated offices and officers as prescribed by the law.

In conclusion, the Commission finds the conduct of Mr. Nkombo to be at variance with the pronouncements that have been made by the Republican President of his administration’s commitment to respect the rule of law and to the promotion and protection of human rights for all.

Issued by:

Mudford Z. Mwandenga
Chairperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Management and staff of the Human Rights Commission (the HRC) are elated at the renewal of the term of office for the Chairperson and the appointment of the new Vice
Chairperson and Commissioners by President Hakainde Hichilema, subject to ratification by the National Assembly.

The Management and staff congratulate Mr. Mudford M. Mwandenga on the renewal of his term of office as Chairperson, Dr. Pamela Towela Sambo on her appointment as Vice
Chairperson and Father Emmanuel Yona Chikoya, Ms. Christine Chama, Ms. Laura Miti and Mr. Tom Shamakamba on their appointment as Commissioners of the HRC.

We note that the appointment of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and Commissioners who are all known human rights defenders, will eventuate in a Commission that is inclusive, diverse,
gender balanced and professionally qualified.

We are confident that once ratified by the National Assembly, the new Commission will enhance the HRC’s capacity to effectively execute its constitutional and legislative mandate
and that their tenures in office will be filled with unprecedented achievements in promoting and protecting human rights for all.

We wish to take this opportunity to wish the former Vice Chairperson and Commissioners well in their endeavours and request them to continue being ambassadors for the promotion
and protection of human rights in Zambia.


Sindiso Ngatsha Sichone (Mrs.)
DIRECTOR
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Management and staff of the Human Rights Commission (the HRC) are elated at the renewal of the term of office for the Chairperson and the appointment of the new Vice
Chairperson and Commissioners by President Hakainde Hichilema, subject to ratification by the National Assembly.

The Management and staff congratulate Mr. Mudford M. Mwandenga on the renewal of his term of office as Chairperson, Dr. Pamela Towela Sambo on her appointment as Vice
Chairperson and Father Emmanuel Yona Chikoya, Ms. Christine Chama, Ms. Laura Miti and Mr. Tom Shamakamba on their appointment as Commissioners of the HRC.

We note that the appointment of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and Commissioners who are all known human rights defenders, will eventuate in a Commission that is inclusive, diverse,
gender balanced and professionally qualified.

We are confident that once ratified by the National Assembly, the new Commission will enhance the HRC’s capacity to effectively execute its constitutional and legislative mandate
and that their tenures in office will be filled with unprecedented achievements in promoting and protecting human rights for all.

We wish to take this opportunity to wish the former Vice Chairperson and Commissioners well in their endeavours and request them to continue being ambassadors for the promotion
and protection of human rights in Zambia.


Sindiso Ngatsha Sichone (Mrs.)
DIRECTOR
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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