The UN Day of Truth was declared in honour of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and to promote the importance of the right to truth and justice. It is also meant to pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all.
 
The Day was in particular declared in recognition of the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was assassinated on 24 March 1980. Archbishop Romeo had for many years denounced human rights violations and opposed all forms of violence. Regrettably, he was shot dead at a church altar on 24th March 1980.
 
Consequently, in 2006 the UN resolved that people had the right to know the truth about gross human rights violations and serious violations of human rights law. It was furthermore declared that governments had a duty and an obligation to protect and guarantee human rights, to conduct effective investigations and to guarantee effective remedies to victims of human rights violations.
 
The observation is also a public reminder that relatives of victims of gross human rights violations such as extra-judicial killings and torture have a right to know the full and complete truth as to the events that transpired, their specific circumstances, and who participated in them, including knowing the circumstances in which the violations took place, as well as the reasons.

There could have been no better way of commemorating this day for Zambia than the on-going inquest on the death of the fourth year University of Zambia female student, Vespers Shimunzhila, who died during a night police operation on 5th October 2018.
 
The inquest is in line with the Government’s obligation of conducting effective investigations on human rights violations with a view of providing effective remedies and punishing the perpetrators in order to end impunity.
 
The Commission will continue executing its constitutional mandate of investigating and reporting on the observance of rights and freedoms and also taking necessary steps to secure appropriate redress where rights and freedoms are violated.
 
To facilitate securing the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and the Dignity of Victims, the Commission will in accordance with its statutory mandate, where necessary and possible, conduct Public Hearings on complaints of gross and systematic human rights violations.
 
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.
 
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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