The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) is calling upon the Zambia Police Service to grant Mr. Chellah Tukuta police bond or take him to court immediately because his continued detention without trial is a violation of human rights.

The Commission is deeply concerned that Mr. Tukuta who has been charged with counts of criminal libel, threatening violence and racial discrimination has been in police custody for more than seven (7) days, which is over-detention and unlawful.

Over-detention constitutes extra-judicial punishment and must not be allowed in a democracy where there must be respect for the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights. Therefore Law Enforcement Officers must refrain from unlawfully punishing, humiliating and degrading suspects during their course of executing their mandate of enforcing the law, which is critical to the criminal justice system of any country.

The Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia, which guides on the promotion and protection of the Right to Liberty as enshrined under Article 13 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia stipulates under Section 33 that anyone arrested without a warrant and not facing an offence attracting death penalty should be taken to court within 24 hours of being arrested and if it is not practicable, he or she should be granted police bond.

The offences Mr. Tukuta is facing are all bondable and therefore his continued detention beyond the prescribed legal period is unjustifiable and a violation of his right to liberty and the right to secure protection of the law as stipulated by Articles 13 and 18 of the Constitution of Zambia respectively and various regional and international human rights instruments.

It is unacceptable for law enforcement officers to engage in blatant discriminatory application of the law whereby some suspects are automatically granted police bond while others are subjected to unlawful over-detention in violation of human rights with impunity.

Therefore, it is only fair and just that Chellah Tukuta is granted police bond pending his appearance in court.

Issued by:

Mweelwa Muleya

The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) has received numerous calls from both members of the public and the media regarding yesterday’s Press Briefing by the Minister of Lusaka Province, Hon. Bowman Lusambo, MP at which he allegedly threatened some individuals and Artistes for expressing their opinions through recorded videos which were being circulated on various social media platforms.
Following those calls, the Commission took time to review the said recorded videos by Mr. Brian Bwembya, whose Artiste name is B-Flow, Mr. Kings Malembe Malembe and the Press Briefing by Honourable Lusambo.
Having reviewed the videos in question, it is the well-considered view of the Commission that the expressions contained in the videos were within the realm of the Right to Freedom of Expression as contained under Article 20 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia and various Regional and International Human Rights Instruments to which Zambia is a Party.
The Commission did not also find anything injurious to the rights or reputation of the Presidency in the reviewed videos. Therefore, the lawful limitation of freedom of expression on account of defamation of the President does not arise. Further, the information expressed therein did not constitute any threat to public order, public morality or national security, which are stipulated international standards for restricting human rights, including freedom of expression.
It would seem from the recorded videos that the objective of the involved individuals was to advise the President and also express themselves on governance matters, which is their constitutional and democratic right.
The review of the Press Briefing Video Recording by the Commission has found that it contained remarks that amounted to suppression of the fundamental right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution and various human rights instruments. Worse still, the language used was demeaning and derogatory. Further, the Commission received calls from individuals who expressed fear that the remark by the Minister that the castigated individuals were “too naked to misbehave….let them know their boundaries”, bordered on threats on their lives, which is deeply regrettable.
Therefore, the Commission calls upon everyone to remain vigilant against any early warning signs of dictatorial tendencies characterized by intimidation of individuals and suppression of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Suppression of media freedom and freedom of expression are the main features of a dictatorship and must not be allowed to take root in Zambia by condemning such acts whenever they are committed by anybody.
The Commission also calls upon Government leaders to adhere to the rule of law, constitutionalism and respect for human rights and refrain from over relying on common sense when dealing with national matters.
Further, leaders are advised to use respectful language when engaging with individuals regardless of their status whether young, poor or vulnerable. Using threatening and disrespectful language against individuals by leaders amounts to abuse of authority and is incompatible with tenets of good governance and democracy. 
Issued by:
Mweelwa Muleya
The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) commends His Excellency, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of the Republic of Zambia for pardoning 2,984 inmates and granting of unconditional bail to 2,719 remandees.
The pardoning of 2,829 male and 155 female inmates on the eve of Africa Freedom Day is commendable as their right to liberty has been restored. The combined 5,703 number of inmates and remandees that was released yesterday is extremely significant because it will contribute to family and society stability.
The granting of unconditional bail to 2,719 remandees is commendable. The Commission has always been advocating for granting of bail to suspects facing bailable offences and misdemeanours as has been done by the President. It is hoped that a sustainable and predictable mechanism will be put in place to prescribe bail as a right in order to enhance the rights to liberty and the presumption of innocence until proven or pleaded guilty.
The pardoning of inmates is commendable because in addition to reducing congestion, it will also contribute to social cohesion, reduction of crime and national productivity. The pardoning has provided an opportunity to ex-inmates to utilize their entrepreneurship skills they ex-inmates were learning in the Correctional Facilities and this has potential to contribute to reducing household poverty and hunger as well as national food.
It should be noted that the conviction of individuals, particularly bread winners, contributes to family disintegration and contributes to a wide range of social ills such as juvenile delinquency, sexual abuse and other forms of crime by some family members as a coping mechanism in the absence of a bread winner.
It is also worth noting that the decision by the President under the prerogative of mercy as provided for under Article 97 of the Constitution of Zambia [Amendment] Act No. 2 of 2016 is especially significant during this period when the country is preventing, managing and controlling coronavirus.
The decongestion of Correctional Facilities means that the risk of contracting and spreading the virus in those facilities has been reduced, and that is a commendable executive decision in the fight against COVID 19.
The Commission wishes to also appeal to family members and society at large to accept, welcome and embrace the pardoned inmates because in the first place such inmates came from those families and society and they are back as law abiding citizens after going through the criminal justice system.
It should be appreciated that released inmates are going to inevitably face serious emotional, psychological and socio-economic challenges during their family and community re-entry and they will need multi-sectorial and specialized counselling and support to help them cope up.
 The Commission is aware that the Zambia Correctional Services has been conducting Pre-Relief Counselling to the pardoned inmates to make them aware of the adverse challenges that may face after being released in order to create resilience in them. However, families and society at large have a primary responsibility to accept, welcome and support the pardoned inmates to fully reintegrate and contribute to public safety and the well-being of society at large.
Further, the pardoned inmates must not betray the President’s compassion by reoffending society. Equally, those granted unconditional bail must remain law abiding citizens during the period of being on bail and ensure that they are available at the time they may be required to appear before the court of law.
The Commission is hopeful that the Zambia Correctional Services through its Correctional and Extensional Services will be adequately supported to play their family tracing and tie up, community re-entry and victim-offender mediation and reconciliation services to sustain the positive impact of the measure undertaken by the President.
Issued by:
Mweelwa  Muleya
The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) strongly condemns the continued violation of media freedom and freedom of expression in Muchinga Province by suspected Patriotic Front (PF) party supporters.
The storming of Isoka Radio Station, Muchinga Radio Station and the cancellation of a paid up Programme on Mpika Radio Station to stop live Radio Broadcasting Programmes featuring United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Mr. Hakainde Hichilema via a telephone interview are a systematic violation of human rights and criminal in nature and must not be allowed to continue.
The Commission, therefore, calls on the Government to immediately take practical steps to stop the violations, criminal and undemocratic conduct to restore the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression in Muchinga Province and indeed the whole country.
The Government must decisively deal with such acts of lawlessness and human rights violations because they have potential to contribute to widespread political violence and thereby endangering the lives of Journalists and other citizens, particularly during the countdown to the 2021 Presidential and General Elections.
Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression are fundamental human rights and critical to good governance and national development. The Government has the primary responsibility to ensure that those who violate human rights are arrested and punished in accordance with the existing laws while victims must be protected from continued abuse or violations.
Regrettably, the Commission has noted that even after the Government through the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Hon. Dora Siliya, MP, who is also the Chief Government Spokesperson, condemned the interference of programming on Mpika and Muchinga Radio Stations, the attacks on Radio Stations by suspected PF supporters have continued unabated.
It would seem that the perpetrators ignored the Government guidance through Honourable Siliya and instead heeded to the call to block Mr. Hichilema from speaking on any Radio Station in Muchinga Province, which was made through a Press Statement attributed to the ruling party’s Muchinga Province Chairperson, Mr. Alex Simuwelu, on the same day the Minister held a Press Statement.
Thus, there is general view that the cancellation of the Radio Programme on Mpika Radio Station on 13th May 2020, the attack of Muchinga Radio Station on 15th May 2020 and Radio Isoka on 18th May 2020 appear to be backed by the ruling party leadership going by the Statement attributed to the PF Provincial Chairperson.
The Commission is deeply concerned at the failure to arrest the identified cadres who stormed Muchinga Radio Station amidst a live programme, as well as taking action against the Mpika District Commissioner, Mr. Moses Katebe, who cancelled the Radio Programme and Mr. Simuwelu whose statement bordered on discrimination, inciting hatred, violence and breach of peace.
The Government is urged to effectively meet its obligation of ensuring that both State and Non-State actors refrain from engaging in such acts of gross human rights violations. Unless the perpetrators are brought to book, the Government will be seen to be failing in its duty to protect and promote human rights and instead allowing the violations to continue with impunity.
It is therefore the Commission’s expectation that the Government will take practical action against the perpetrators of the said human rights violations as a matter of good governance, respect for human rights, constitutionalism and the rule of law.
There is also need for a clear assurance by the Government to protect the right of everyone, including Mr. Hichilema’s, to democratically participate in public affairs of this nation, anywhere in this country, on an equal footing with the ruling party, without any form of discrimination, intimidation and harassment.
Issued by:
Mudford Z. Mwandenga
The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) is calling for increased funding towards public and community health awareness activities on COVID 19 to foster positive behavioural change towards the New Normal.
The Commission has observed low levels of compliance with Health Regulations and Presidential Directives on Coronavirus particularly in peri-urban and rural areas where there is misinformation and myths relating to COVID 19.
It is a source of grave concern that despite daily statistics of people testing positive for coronavirus, some people are still spreading false information that there is no coronavirus in Zambia and are claiming that the statistics on people testing positive are a fundraising venture. This kind of information is endangering the fundamental rights to health and life as it has the potential to contribute to lowering the guard against prevention by some people. It must, therefore, be urgently redressed through increased dissemination of correct information.
While the Commission commends the Government for allowing trading in markets and street vending during the outbreak of COVID 19 in order to promote socio-economic rights of individuals and families, it is equally concerned about the low levels of adherence to public health regulations and guidelines.
The Commission has observed that some traders and buyers in markets and on the streets were not maintaining social distancing, regularly washing and sanitising their hands and were no wearing face masks. Such low level of non-compliance to health regulations practices poses a serious risk and complication to fighting the prevention and spread of coronavirus. This is because in an event that there was a confirmed case of coronavirus, adequate contact tracing within the public markets and street vending value chain will be almost impossible.
The Commission therefore calls upon all marketeers and street venders to strictly adhere to the health regulations for their own, their family and customers’ public health safety. Above all, the Government must prioritise funding towards public health education and community awareness activities in order to enhance prevention and improve compliance with the Health Regulations and Presidential Directives on coronavirus.
Finally, the Commission commends the on-going capacity building of health workers and it is hoped that it will contribute to the reduction of the worrying cases of health workers contracting the virus.
Issued by:
Mweelwa Muleya
The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) is deeply concerned at the increasing number of health workers testing positive for Coronavirus and calls for their enhanced protection and also consider payment of risk allowance as they risk their lives to save lives.
The increasing number of medical personnel contracting COVID 19 during the course of duty is a reflection of inadequacies in their protection and highly unsafe working environment they are exposed to. The need to prioritise the protection of health workers from contracting COVID 19 is not only for their own health safety, but that of their own families and the patients they care for.
The Commission has been monitoring measures aimed at preventing and controlling the spread of Coronavirus and has found that some health workers lack adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks, face shields, eye goggles, surgical gowns, plastic aprons and boots.
To this effect, the Commission supports the Government pronouncement to provide adequate PPE at all levels of health care, particularly to Frontline Health Workers such as in casualty, emergency admission wards and outpatient departments. The provision of PPE should be supported by adequate and continuous training of health personnel in the prevention of contracting and transmitting COVID 19 during their course of work.
Further, the Commission calls for mandatory testing for COVID 19 of all patients that are admitted for any illness, particularly in high risk districts to prevent health workers from contracting the virus from patients who may not be exhibiting any symptoms of COVID 19. This could be possible since the number of admitted patients have drastically reduced as one of the positive measures the Government has put in place during the fight against COVID 19.
During the monitoring exercise, the Commission has observed positive measures aimed at decongesting health facilities such as banning vising hours, downsizing or closing outpatient clinics, limiting elective surgical procedure to only emergences such as cancer, reporting for work on a rotational basis of health staff in terms of daily clinical activities and reduction of hours spent on the wards.
However, it is clear from the increasing number of health workers testing positive for coronavirus that such commendable measures are inadequate and there is need for serious and urgent review of the working environment of health workers.
Issued by:
Mweelwa Muleya
The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) commends the Police Inspector General of Police Mr. Kakoma Kanganja for guiding the Police to restrain from using excessive force during the enforcement of the Public Health Guidelines and Presidential Directive on Coronavirus.
The  directive is commendable because it is consistent 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.
The Commission is raising a red alert against police brutality because in the past it has received and dealt with complaints of individuals who have suffered broken ribs, legs, arms, teeth and have lost sight or eyes, sense of hearing and ruptured private parts, thereby terminally violating their right to found a family. In extreme cases, some victims have died, depriving them of their right to life.
Therefore, the Commission calls on members of the public and public officials to refrain from the culture and practice of celebrating or condoning any form of violence, particularly by the law enforcement officers because the consequences of the so called minimum force can be as grave  as permanent disability or death, and anyone can be a victim. Above all, physical violence is totally prohibited at international and human rights law, by the Constitution of Zambia Chapter 1 of the laws of Zambia and the Penal Code Act, Chapter 87 of the laws of Zambia as a violation of human rights and criminal.
Finally, the Commission reiterates its support for effective implementation of the Public Health Guidelines and the Presidential Directive on Coronavirus within the established legal framework because they are for the greater good of promoting and protecting the rights to health and life. Therefore, everyone must comply with the guidelines for their own interest, that of their family and the members of the public at large.
Issued by:
Mweelwa Muleya

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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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