The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is concerned at the prevailing political animosity between the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND) which has continued to negatively affect the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms.
It is the considered view of the Commission that the continued violations of individual rights such as the right to life, protection from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary and over-detention of suspects, violations of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression, are symptoms of deep-rooted political grievances that need to be addressed through political dialogue.
The Commission is equally aware of the fact that human rights violations are among the root causes of insecurity and instability, with real potential to trigger conflict, as well as economic, political and social disorder.
It is therefore strongly recommended that the PF and UPND leadership must open up dialogue and resolve the outstanding issues that may be contributing to a hostile political environment. It must be appreciated that the continued political hostility is endangering the maintenance of peace, law and order as well as grossly undermining the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms.
The situation as the Human Rights Commission sees it, calls for magnanimous, candid and selfless political decisions, efforts and commitment of high ranking political leaders to face each other around the table for the sake of peace and protection of the rights of individuals. Political dialogue is necessary in a multi-party democracy as a means of mitigating excessive divergent or different views in the national interest.
It would be a grave mistake to hope that the current political animosity and suppression of human rights and freedoms will be resolved through threats and counter threats or public condemnation statements without dialoguing and subordinating personal and partisan interests to national interests.
The frequency of losing lives through politically related circumstances is extremely saddening and the country must not accept such a situation as normal, and continue as business as usual without taking practical steps to redress such grave human rights violations.
Time to act, by political party leaders reaching out to each other, is now for the sake of everyone.
[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]
Mudford. Z. Mwandenga (Mr)
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION