The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has observed that the campaigns in Roan and Bahati Constituencies have so far been generally peaceful and calls for continued restraint from interfering with the right of the electorate to vote for candidates of their own choice in tomorrow’s parliamentary by-elections.
The Commission has been on the ground monitoring the election campaigns in both Roan and Bahati Constituencies and has observed that all participating political parties were to a large extent allowed to freely campaign.
The Zambia Police Service has respected the Right to Freedom of Assembly and professionally played its role of maintaining law and order in line with their constitutional and legal obligations and mandates.
The Commission particularly noted with a sense of encouragement that the police refrained from the bad practice of imposing total restrictions to the right of the opposition to conduct meetings whenever either the Republican or the Vice Republican Presidents were in an area
To this effect, the Commission commends the Republican President, the Vice Republican President, all participating political party leaders and their supporters as well as the police for adhering to the provisions of the Public Order Act and the internationally agreed best principles and practices of managing public assemblies.
Suppression or complete restriction of peaceful public meetings had in the past been a source of political conflict, violence, breakdown of law and order as well as the violation of a wide range of human rights and freedoms.
It is relieving that the largely peaceful campaigns and the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of assembly and expression experienced in Roan and Bahati Constituencies so far demonstrate a complete departure from politically motivated violence and disproportionate use of force by the police.
The peaceful campaigns further confirm the fact that fundamental democratic principles of non-violence, co-existence, tolerance, mutual respect and respect for human rights and freedoms as required in a multi-party democracy and pluralistic society, were possible in Zambia.
The Commission is therefore calling on everyone to continue restraining themselves from engaging in unlawful activities that have the potential to undermine the prevailing peaceful campaigns and the right of the electorate to vote for their preferred candidates on 11th April 2019.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia has informed the Commission that they are on course in facilitating the right to vote in accordance with the law. Therefore, all registered voters are encouraged to peacefully turn up in large numbers and exercise their right to vote for candidates of their own choice in the two constituencies.
The Commission will continue observing the election campaigns and the voting process and report on its findings in line with its constitutional mandate of ensuring that the rights and freedoms of everyone in Zambia are promoted and protected.
[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]
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION