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As Zambia joins the international community in commemorating the United Nations Refugee Day which falls every year on 20th June, the Human Rights Commission (HRC)wishes to commend the Zambian Government, its Co-operating and Development Partners and the local hosting communities for the continued and accelerated efforts towards promoting and protecting therights of asylum seekers and refugees. The United Nations Refugee Day was declared in 2000 with a view of raising global awareness on the global shared responsibilities for millions of children, women and men who are forced to flee their countries mainly from threats of persecution, violence and conflict. Currently, the global estimated number of refugees is 68.5 million and as of end of February 2018, Zambia was hosting more than 70,000 Refugees and Asylum Seekers. The HRC has in the last three weeks been on the ground assessing the human rights situation in various refugee transit camps and resettlements such as Kenani Refugee Transit Centreand Mantapala Refugee Settlement in Luapula Province, Maheba Refugee Settlement in North-Western Province and Mushakende Refugee Settlement in Western Province. The overall findings were that the Zambian Government with financial and technical assistance of various partners such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), local and international Non-Governmental Organisations and the respective local communities was doing its best to promote and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. The HRC wishes to particularly commend the Government of the Republic of Zambia for developing and implementing a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) at Mantapala Refugee Resettlement which focusses on both humanitarian and sustainable livelihoods of asylum seekers and refugees in an integrated manner with the local communities. TheCRRF is an integral part of Global Compact on Refugees, which comprises the CRRF itself and a Programme of Actionon supporting countries affected by forced displacement and is expected to be launched by the UNHCR later this year. The on-going construction of learning, health, water supply and sanitation and security related infrastructure at Mantapala is highly commendable as it will contribute to the promotion and protection of the rights of both the asylum seekers and refugees and the host communities. The HRC therefore calls upon the International Community and various stakeholders to scale up financial, technical and moral support to the Zambian Government to enable it meet its international obligation of supporting asylum seekers and refugees who have continued flocking into the country, particularly from the Democratic Republic of Congo due to the on-going conflict. Further, the HRC wishes to commend the host communities for their resilience, compassion, generosity, hospitality and solidarity towards the asylum seekers and refugees. Asylum seekers and refugees are victims of grave human rights violations and are extremely vulnerable multiple ways as they are deprived of their basic needs as they flee their homeland with little or nothing of their possessions and find themselves in a strange environment. The HRC also calls for increased and immediate efforts towards releasing of asylum seekers from any detention facility who may have been deemed as Prohibited Immigrants (IPs). Individuals who may have found themselves in such situation should either be integrated in Refugee Settlements or repatriated to their countries of origins if conditions exist in those countries that they will not be subjected to persecution. On this important Global Refugee Day, the HRC joins the International Community through the UNHCR to call for accelerated shared responsibility towards promoting and protecting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees as well as the host communities in an integrated manner as provided by the CRRF. [The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution (with an overall mandate and obligation of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted] Issued by: Mudford.Z. Mwandenga Chairperson HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) wishes to convey its condolences and sympathy to Hon. Justice Mumba Malila on the death of his wife who passed on in the University Teaching Hospital on Sunday 27th May 2018 after an illness.

Hon. Justice Malila, who is now a Supreme Court of Zambia Judge, was the second Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2006 before he was appointed Attorney General.

The Commission is deeply saddened at the loss of Mrs Malila, who was also Chilanga District Council Chairperson. The Commission’s thoughts and prayers are with the Malila family and we wish them God’s strength during this extremely difficult time.

Issued by:

Mudford.Z. Mwandenga
Chairperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission condemns the subjecting of a 16 year old boy in Kitwe to torture and other forms of cruel, dehumanising and degrading treatment or punishment and commends the Zambia Police Service for their rapid response towards investigating and arresting the suspects.

The developing trend of youth gangsterism, particularly in some parts of Copperbelt and Lusaka Provinces, who are victimising individuals is deeply worrying and must decisively be stopped before becoming out of control.

Gansterism infringes on a wide range of human rights and freedoms. Victims are physically, psychologically, sexually and verbally abused while others are deprived of their property and the right to freedom of movement, security of a person and the right to life are under constant threat and attack.

The reported forcing of the 16 year old boy in Kitwe to eat his own faecal matter and subjecting him to other forms of cruel, dehumanising and degrading treatment or punishment must attract the appropriate punishment of the perpetrators as may be meted out by the courts of law. The Commission therefore looks forward to the due process of the law taking its course, which includes taking the suspects to the courts of law within the legally stipulated timeframe and according them their right to the protection and benefit of the law as enshrined under Articles 13 and 18 of the Bill of Rights.

The Commission also wishes to encourage the police to thoroughly investigate the undercurrents relating to the formation of such criminal gangs of youths and come up with effective measures towards stamping out gansterism. In most cases dehumanising effects of poverty, negative peer pressure and drug abuse are catalysts for such juvenile delinquency manifesting itself in organised criminal gangs. This requires the involvement of everyone in supporting law enforcement officers in preventing and combating organised crime.

In particular, the parents and guardians of such youths have a critical role in providing counseling and guidance and must co-operate with law enforcement officers in the process of reforming the youths through the established criminal justice system.

The Commission also commends members of the public for their continued support to the Zambia Police Service in maintaining security by identifying and reporting the perpetrators in order to create a conducive environment for all law-abiding individuals to freely operate and live.
The Commission is concerned about such acts of lawlessness because breakdown of law and order grossly undermines the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms. maintenance of law and order and respect for human rights and freedoms are two sides of the same coin and must always be maintained and respected for the betterment of everyone in society.

[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 joins the rest of the world in commemorating the Silver Anniversary of the World Press Freedom Day which falls on 3rd May of every year.

This year marks 25 years of commemorating the World Press Freedom Day since it was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. This year’s World Press Freedom Day is being commemorated under the global theme of “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”.

The theme is a clarion call to the media fraternity to remain vigilant in exposing abuse of power by either public or private individuals and institutions that cause injustice, violate human rights and the rule of law. It is also a reminder to those who wield power to exercise it within the confines of the rule of law, and refrain from violating human rights such as suppressing press freedom. At the same time, the media should realise that they wield significant power which should be exercised with utmost responsibility to avoid violating human rights and the reputation of individuals.

Journalists are vanguard human rights defenders and must, therefore, remain steadfast to effectively playing their role of the Fourth Estate of Government by defending the underprivileged against the all-powerful in society that may abuse their power.

The World Press Freedom Day Celebration is a landmark achievement of the gallant African Journalists who assembled in Windhoek, in Namibia and hammered out the Windhoek Declaration in 1991 aimed at promoting and protecting media pluralism and independence.

The Windhoek Declaration signalled the dawn of the introduction and re-introduction of multi-party democracy and pluralistic societies in most developing countries, which resulted in liberalisation of the media industry.

The Silver Anniversary of World Press Freedom Day is worthy celebrating because a lot has been achieved in the last 25 years in a number of countries, including Zambia, in fostering press freedom and human rights and freedoms in general. Zambia today boasts of a number of media institutions either owned and/or operated by individuals, faith-based organisations, Communities or other interest groups other than the government. The introduction and implementation of a liberalised media policy in Zambia has greatly contributed to the realisation of media pluralism and independence as desired by the Journalists who expressed themselves through the Windhoek Declaration which has rocketed into worldwide influence on press freedom.

The Human Rights Commission is however alive to the fact that most Journalists, especially those dedicated to pursuing and reporting the truth, are still working under extremely difficult and risky environments. They are in some cases physically attacked and verbally abused while their institutions operate in constant fear of being closed down either by using archaic draconian laws or by starving them of the much needed revenues from adverts to financially cripple them.

Notwithstanding the difficult working environments Journalists endure daily, they have demonstrated unwavering resilience in promoting and defending human rights and freedoms. For this, the Human Rights Commission salutes and celebrates their continued lifetime struggle for the betterment of society at large.

The Commission therefore wishes the media fraternity a Happy 25th Anniversary of the World Press Freedom Day!.

[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) is deeply concerned at the continued infringement of Roan Member of Parliament Hon. Chishimba Kambwili’s right to bail despite the Court granting it to him.

The Commission has been informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Department of Immigration, is in possession of Hon. Kambwili’s passport, which is supposed to be surrendered to the Court in order for him to meet the bail conditions. As a result of the failure by the Immigration Department to hand over the passport to Court, Hon. Kambwili is unable to be released on bail.

The Human Rights Commission is calling upon the respective state institutions to effectively co-ordinate and ensure that Hon. Kambwili’s rights and freedoms are not compromised as a result of the consequences of the unfortunate actions of the state at the expense of his health.

It is in the best interest of everyone, particularly the government, that Hon. Kambwili is granted an environment conducive for him to recover as a matter of right.

It is in the public domain that Hon. Kambwili has been of ill health, and that he has no record of being a fugitive for him to be treated in the manner in which he is being treated.

The Commission also condemns the decision to rush Hon. Kambwili to Lusaka Correctional Facility instead of rushing him to the hospital for medical attention after he had collapsed at the Lusaka Magistrate Courts on Wednesday. We consider that action to be an act of cruel and inhuman treatment, which is deeply regrettably.

The Commission is calling upon the state to accord Hon. Kambwili his right to equal protection of the law like any other suspect, by removing all impediments to him enjoying his right to bail which has duly been granted to him by a competent court of law.

The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution to ensure that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted.

Issued by:


Mudford. Z. Mwandenga
Chairperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is calling upon the Anti-Corruption Commission to consider granting the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Consultant, Hon. Chishimba Kambwili, bond as a matter of human rights.

The HRC believes that the offences which Hon. Kambwili has been charged with are bondable. He should therefore be treated in accordance with the rule of law and in a humane manner considering his health status.

It is desirable in a democratic state such as Zambia that the rights and freedoms of individuals and suspects alike are always promoted and protected in accordance with the rule of law. All suspects should enjoy the right to equal protection of the law and must be presumed innocent until proven guilty by the courts of law. Over-detention of suspects is universally considered as a violation of human rights and a form of extra-judicial punishment of suspects and must be avoided.

Based on the circumstances leading to the arrest of Hon. Kambwili, there is every reasonable ground to believe that he is not a flight risk because he had always availed himself whenever he was required for investigations. In any event, if a suspect breaches any of the bond conditions, it is within the powers of the Law Enforcement Officers to revoke it accordingly.

The HRC is deeply concerned with the challenges a number of suspects are facing in accessing bond, particularly the underprivileged ones who do not even receive any kind of publicity whenever their rights are being infringed upon.

As a Commission, we have over the years been working on a bail and bond project aimed at promoting and protecting the right to liberty of suspects and a number of suspects have been assisted regardless of their social status.

The Commission wishes to state that infringement or perceived infringement of the rights and freedoms of high profile politicians who are always in the public spotlight whenever they find themselves in contact with the law is a daily experience for hundreds of suspects who are in many respects vulnerable.

The Human Rights Commission is therefore calling for improved administration of the right to bail and bond in order to safe guard the rights and freedoms of all suspects regardless of their status in society.

All those with information about individuals whose rights have been violated, or are being violated, are urged to report to the Human Rights Commission, either in person or using various platforms such as our Facebook: Human Rights Commission-Zambia or Toll Free Line: 8181.

The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution to ensure that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted.

 

Issued by:

Mudford. Z. Mwandenga
Chairperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Human Rights Commission wishes to applaud the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kakoma Kanganja, for making continuous training of police officers a top priority for the Zambia Police Service in order to ensure that police officers adhere to high standards of professionalism and uphold and protect human rights in the execution of their duties.

The Commission is therefore encouraged that the Police Command has taken a self-introspection and responded to the need to build the capacity of the Zambia Police Service in human rights as such efforts will help police officers to effectively perform their duty of protecting life and property while respecting human dignity. The move is demonstrating the fact that the Police Command is taking seriously the Constitutional provisions that mandate the Zambia Police Service to uphold human rights.  Article 193 (2) (e) of the Zambian Constitution [Amendment] Act No. 2 of 2016 obliges the Zambia Police to, among other things, uphold the Bill of Rights.

The Commission believes that the change in name from Zambia Police Force to the Zambia Police Service as stipulated under Article 193 of the Constitution, will require a paradigm shift that can be brought about through such continuous training programmes so that the spirit of service and respect for fundamental human rights is reflected in the attitudes and conduct of the law enforcement officers. It is in this regard that the Commission welcomes Inspector General Kakoma Kanganja’s emphasis on human rights as one of the issues that would be given serious attention during the in-service training programmes for police officers at Lilayi Police Training College, Godfrey Makuma in Sondela and Kamfinsa School of Public Order Maintenance.

The Commission notes that the Inspector General instructed police officers during the Zambia Police Service 2017 National Annual Ball held on Friday last that human rights must always be upheld in the execution of their duties and that it would be one of the key focus areas of the Zambia Police Service in discharging its constitutional mandate. The Commission also notes that over the years, the Zambia Police Service has been holding Open Day sessions with members of the public to improve the police-community relationship as well as public perception of the Service. Therefore, focusing on capacity building is one of the ways that will help the Zambia Police to be a professional Service and one that upholds and protects human rights. Law and order cannot be effectively maintained in an environment where human rights and freedoms are violated with impunity and if police officers lack knowledge and understanding of human rights.

On its part, the Human Rights Commission will continue to work closely with the Zambia Police Service in this process of transformation and ensure that there is compliance to human rights standards.

The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the 1991 Zambian Constitution as amended by Act Number 2 of 2016 to, among other human rights functions, ensure that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted.
 

Issued by:

 

Mudford Zachariah Mwandenga
CHAIRPERSON OF THE 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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