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The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) calls on the Zambia Police Service to grant Mr. Fumba Chama, popularly known as Pilato, and three others police bond or take them to court today.

The Commission is calling on the restoration of the right to liberty of Mr. Chama and his co-accused in the alleged unlawful assembly charge Mr. Lazarus Mambwe, and the Alliance for Community Action Executive Director Ms. Laura Miti and the Programme Manager Mr. Bornwell Mwewa in accordance with the state obligation to respect the rights of suspects.

Further, Section 33 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) Act provides that accused persons who are detained without a warrant may be granted police bond if it is not practicable to take them before an appropriate competent court of law within 24 hours.

The Commission is confident that the courts of law will admit the suspects to bail on reasonable and necessary conditions pending trial because the offences they are charged with are bailable.

The Commission wishes to take this opportunity to express its repeated concern over the routine arresting and detention of individuals or groups of individuals who are peacefully exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression.

The continued abuse of the Public Order Act grossly undermines the respect for constitutionalism, rule of law and human rights and must be stopped for the sake of good governance. It is the Commission’s considered view that it is unfair and unjustifiable to treat individuals who are peacefully expressing their views on matters of public interest as common criminals.

Issued by:

Mweelwa Muleya
Spokesperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) commends His Excellency, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of the Republic of Zambia, for pardoning 961 inmates from the various Correctional Facilities across the country on Christmas Day.
 
The pardoning of the 961 inmates on 25th December 2019 brings the total of inmates President Lungu has pardoned this year alone to 3,325. On 25th May, which is Africa Freedom Day, President Lungu pardoned 2,182 inmates while on Independence Day, 24th October 2019, the President also pardoned 283 inmates in exercising his Prerogative of Mercy Powers under Article 97 of the Constitution of Zambia.
 
The gesture of compassion by the President which has resulted into restoration of the right to liberty for thousands of ex-inmates who have been re-integrated with their families and communities is highly commendable.
 
The number of inmates being eligible for pardon is an indication that the on-going reforms under the Zambia Correctional Services are bearing fruits as ex-offenders are graduating into law abiding citizens ready to contribute to community well-being and public safety.
It is the position of the Commission that deserving inmates should be given a second change by way of pardoning so that they can contribute to the well-being of their families, communities and national development at large.
 
The Commission wishes to call upon those who have been given a second chance not to betray the public confidence and trust that has been exercised by the President through the exercise of his prerogative of mercy by re-offending society.
 
Further, the Commission appeals to individuals, families and communities to receive and support the ex-inmates without any form of prejudice, stigma and discrimination because anyone is bound to find themselves in a similar or same situation.
 
There is also need for enhanced support to correctional and extension services and restorative justice and peace building programme to empower the Zambia Correctional Service to effectively facilitate and monitor  re-entry and re-integration of ex-inmates into society and restoring relationships between victims and offenders and their families.
 
The ever increasing population boom in correctional facilities has been contributing to overcrowding, which results into a wide range of violations of the rights of inmates. It is therefore encouraging that the Executive is taking practical measures towards redressing the situation.
 
However, there is need for the Legislature and the Judiciary to also play their respective roles aimed at ensuring that custodial sentences are a last resort but encourage non-custodial sentences aimed at promoting rehabilitation, restorative justice and peace-building for sustainable national development. Further, there is need to expedite and support the process of repealing the Prisons Act and replace it with the Zambia Correctional Services Act.
 
[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:
 
Mweelwa Muleya
Spokesperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

Vice President of the Republic of Zambia Inonge Wina says the government is open to the consultative process for abolition of death penalty and would do everything possible within its powers to respect the right to life.

The Vice President said this during the commemoration of the international human rights day held on 10th December, 2019 at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.

Read full speech

The Human Rights Commission calls on the Zambia Police Service to investigate and arrest the suspects in connection with the brutal assault of the Patriots for Economic Progress (PEP) during a peaceful demonstration against the alleged overpricing of 42 fire tender engines in Lusaka.

The Commission has confirmed that the PEP President, Mr. Sean Tembo, reported to Lusaka Central Police the case of being attacked and robbed by some known and unknown people who were allegedly armed with dangerous weapons such as guns and machetes on Cairo Road in Lusaka.

It is therefore expected that in accordance with the rule of law, the police will swiftly act on the reported crime in order to end impunity and lawlessness that has in the past resulted in grave violation of human rights such as deaths and injuries of victims and loss of property.

The fact that Mr. Tembo is reported to have provided the Police with names of suspected assailants should provide the police with a lead in initiating investigations and bringing the suspected culprits to account through the due process of the law.

The Commission has engaged the police command to find out why there was no police protection or policing of the lawful public procession as required by law. However, the police have indicated that there was a last minute advice to Mr. Tembo that the police were not going to be available to monitor the procession because they had a sudden commitment.

The Commission is deeply concerned at the growing and apparently justified public perception that the police deliberately and maliciously neglect or refuse to protect individuals with divergent views in order to justify their routine violation of the right to freedom of assembly through the abuse of the Public Order Act.

The right to freedom of expression of divergent views and opinions is the foundation of a multi-party democracy and a pluralistic society such as Zambia, and the State has an obligation to respect and protect that right without any form of discrimination.

The Commission also calls for political tolerance, civility and respect for the rule of law and human rights. Those who commit crimes must be punished to avoid creating a fertile ground for impunity, civil disobedience and anarchy, which is inimical to national interest.

[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:

Mweelwa Muleya
Spokesperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) commends His Excellency, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of the Republic of Zambia, for pardoning 283 inmates from the various Correctional Facilities across the country on the eve of Zambia’s 55th Independence Anniversary Celebrations.

The pardoning of 245 male and 38 female inmates by President Lungu in exercise of his Prerogative of Mercy Powers under Article 97 of the Constitution of Zambia was significant towards restoring the dignity, rights and freedoms of the affected individuals.

The pardoning of inmates was also necessary towards decongesting Correctional Facilities which were usually overcrowded between 250% and 300%, a situation that contributed to the violation of a wide range of human rights violations.

It was a momentous occasion for the pardoned individuals to join and their families and the rest of Zambians in celebrating Zambia’s 55th Independence Anniversary Celebrations under the theme “Our Freedoms, Our Country and Our Responsibility”.

The Commission is commending the President’s exercise of mercy against the background of the unfavourable human rights situation in detention and correctional facilities which the Commission has consistently been bringing to the attention of the various legal and justice sector players in Zambia.

Further, the Commission wishes to thank the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Stephen Kampyongo, MP and the Minister of Justice, Hon. Given Lubinda, MP for their steadfast leadership and understanding on matters relating to promoting and protecting the rights of inmates.

The Commission is particularly encouraged that its support to the Government to improve the rights of inmates has on many occasions been appreciated by the Government through taking of practical steps towards redressing the situation, including pardoning some of the recommended inmates based on various human rights considerations.

However, the Commission is saddened by the death of an inmate it had recommended for pardoning on account of ill-health and old age, a day before the announcement of his pardoning. The Commission commiserates with his family on the tragic loss. Nonetheless, the Commission is hugely grateful that the President had done what was humanely possible by exercising his constitutional powers of mercy and compassion on individuals convicted by the courts.

Finally, the Commission wishes to congratulate all those who were pardoned and appeal to them not to betray the President’s Prerogative of Mercy by backsliding into old behaviour that had caused them to be in conflict with the law and society at large.

Their pardoning should be an opportunity for the released inmates to understand and appreciate the fact that despite offending society, society at large through the President has forgiven them. Therefore, the released inmates should give back their best to society by living a life consistent with this year’s Independence Anniversary theme, “Our Freedoms, Our Country and Our Responsibility”.

[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]


Mweelwa Muleya
Spokesperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) notes with concern that there lacks clarity under the current Constitutional provisions regarding the status of economic, social and cultural rights in Zambia following the repeal of Part IX of the 1991 Constitution as amended by Act No. 2 of 2016.
 
Prior to the enactment of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016, economic, social and cultural rights were clearly provided for under Part IX as part of Directive Principles of State Policy. The Directive Principles of State Policy served as a guide for the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary in the development of national policies; implementation of national policies; making and enactment of laws; and application of the Constitution and any other law.
 
Although the Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Part IX of the 1991 Constitution (which was repealed) were not justiciable, the legal status accorded to the Directive Principles constituted a constitutional obligation on the part of the State to take appropriate measures towards the progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights, provided that resources were available to sustain their implementation.
 
The repeal and replacement of Part IX of the 1991 Constitution by Parts VII to XX of the amended Constitution of 2016 entails that the Constitution is now silent on economic, social and cultural rights, hence the lack of clarity regarding their legal status in Zambia.
 
It is the considered view of the Human Rights Commission that the failure of the National Referendum to pass the threshold to expand the Bill of Rights as proposed in 2016 meant that Zambia was left with Part III, which is the Bill of Rights that only protects civil and political rights. In other words, economic, social and cultural rights which Zambia has committed to uphold by acceding to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) are absent. Zambia acceded to the ICESCR on 10th April, 1984, and under Article 2 (1) of the said Covenant, each State Party undertakes to; “take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realisation of the rights recognised in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.”
 
The Commission is aware of the Government’s intentions to re-visit the enactment of the expanded proposed Bill of Rights through a National Referendum which would be progressive if the Referendum succeeds. However, the failure of the National Referendum as was the case in 2016 implies that the citizens will have lost everything provided for under the Directive Principles of State Policy in as far as the realisation of their economic, social and cultural rights is concerned.
 
It is against this background that the Commission appeals to the Government to consider the holding of a National Referendum on the proposed Bill of Rights which provides for economic, social and cultural rights, further and special rights such as group rights, rights of vulnerable groups which includes women, children, and persons with disabilities among others. Having learnt from the outcome of the 2016 National Referendum which was unsuccessful, it is the Commission’s view that future National Referenda be held separately from the general election in order to avoid the risk of having the process politicised. 
 
In the interim, the Commission is advocating for the re-introduction of express provisions in the Constitution as earlier contained before the repeal and replacement of Part IX of the 1991 Constitution by Parts VII to XX of the amended Constitution of 2016. The Commission believes that the express mention of Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution was a strong demonstration of the State’s position and commitment regarding the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights.
 
[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]

Mr. Mudford Zachariah Mwandenga
CHAIRPERSON
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) strongly condemns the beating up of its member of staff and a member of the public who was wearing a Patriotic Front (PF) T-Shirt by United Party for National Development (UPND) supporters during the nomination of their candidate for the Katuba Constituency Parliamentary by-election yesterday.

The harassment of HRC Materials Productions Officer (MPO), Mr. Oscar Chisenga, and an individual wearing a PF T-Shirt by UPND supporters is barbaric. The Commission calls upon UPND leaders to identify and hand over to Police the perpetrators to demonstrate that their call for non-violence was not mere rhetoric. Condemning violence without bringing perpetrators to account for their action is meaningless and implies supporting the crime.

The Commission is saddened that the party cadres harassed and beat up Mr. Chisenga before snatching a wallet cointaining his personal effects and a Commission Mobile Tablet, which he was using to video record them as they attacked an individual who was wearing PF regalia.

Mr. Chisenga was only doing his constitutional duty of monitoring the promotion and protection of human rights and nothing justifies his harassment and beating. Equally, the beating up of an individual wearing PF regalia was an act of high level of intolerance and lack of civility and undemocratic conduct that must be roundly condemned. Wearing anything bearing a political message is one’s democratic right, particularly freedom of expression and choice.

Therefore, political parties must educate their members that the expression of divergent views, co-existance and tolerance underpin a multi-party democratic state and a pluralistic society such as Zambia, and must be respected.

Human Rights Defenders such as human rights workers, activists and Journalists deserve protection and space to carry out their work in an environment free of intimidation, harassment or any form of harm.

Political party leaders have a primary obligation to ensure that their members and supporters maintain law and order, public safety and respect human rights during their public meetings. The Commission, therefore, calls upon the UPND leadership to help identify the perpetrators of violence in Katuba yesterday.

The Commission reiterates its call for non-violent and free election campaigns in Katuba Constituency and urge the political party leadership of the participating parties provide leadership in promoting and protecting human rights and maintaining lawn, order and public safety.

[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:

Mweelwa Muleya
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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