The Human Rights Commission wishes to strongly condemn the alleged killing of a Zambia Airforce (ZAF) Officer who was in custody at Woodlands Police on Saturday 18th March 2017 and has instituted investigations into the matter to ensure that justice is done.
What is clear and in the public domain, and not in dispute so far is the fact that the ZAF officer, Sergeant Mark Choongwa, died after being brutally beaten. What seems to be in dispute is whether or not he was beaten by either the inmates or the Police Officers at Woodlands Police Station. In either case, the right to life as guaranteed by Article 12 of the Constitution of Zambia has been violated and suspects must be subjected to an impartial, fair and transparent due process of the law in accordance with Article 18 of the Constitution of Zambia, after being appropriately charged so that justice is done.
It is the responsibility of the State to protect the rights of persons in their custody, including from harm arising from third parties such as inmates. Where any arbitrariness has occurred such as in the death of the ZAF officer, the State has an obligation to effectively and promptly take necessary steps to secure appropriate redress to victims and/or their families and to also punish perpetrators of human rights violations to end impunity.
The Commission has keenly followed the media statements from both the Zambia Police Service and the relatives of the deceased and is conducting its own independent investigations and come up with its findings and recommendations on the matter.
The Commission is also investigating the death of a 26 years old man, Kelvin Kabango, who died in Kabwe General Hospital on 9th March 2017, after allegedly being tortured by the Police Officers at Landless Corner Police Post in Chisamba District to compel him to confess having stolen a farming equipment. Investigations have so far reached an advanced stage and the findings will be released as soon as investigations are finalised.
Acts of torture, either by State or Non-State Actors are a violation of the right to protection from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment as well as under Article 15 of the Zambian Constitution.
The Human Rights Commission wishes to reiterate the State’s obligation to respect, promote and protect human rights in accordance with national, regional and international human rights laws.
The Commission draws its mandate and obligation to investigate such cases from Article 230 (3) of the Zambian Constitution [Amendment] Act No. 2 of 2016, which states that “ The Human Rights Commission shall investigate and report on the observance of rights and freedoms” as well as from the Human Rights Act, Chapter 48 of the Laws of Zambia.
[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 and obligation of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted]
Chief of Information, Education and Training
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION