HRC calls for the arrest and prosecution of all suspects in connection with the death of the National Democratic Congress youth chairman
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is deeply saddened at the death of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) youth Chairman, Mr. Obed Kasongo who was hacked by political opponents during the Roan Parliamentary by-elections on 11th April 2019 and calls for the immediate arrest all the suspected perpetrators.
The death of the NDC youth leader is a clear case of deprivation of his Right to Life through organised violence by well-known suspects who were reported to Mpatamatu Police Station on 11th April 2019.
While observing the Roan Parliamentary by-elections, the Commission received a complaint that four NDC members by the names of Mr. Guston Mwila, Mr. Obed Kasongo, a Mr. Musukwa and Mr Byson Phiri were brutally hacked with machetes and other weapons by suspected PF members and leaders during the early hours of 11th April 2019.
The Commission engaged the Police who confirmed the incident and the fact that a named 25 year old man was arrested and detained in connection with the physical assault of the four NDC members. The Commission also met with NDC members and leaders, in the company of the late Mr. Kasongo, who had gone to report at Mpatamatu Police Station. They complained that the detained suspect was just a sacrificial lamb because the suspect who had actually harmed Mr. Kasongo was still being seen driving around and was at the Police Station but he was let scot free.
The late Mr. Kasongo expressed fear that if he did not scream that,“it is me Kasongo [while mentioning the name of one of his assailants] please don’t kill me”, he would have been killed on the spot during that same fateful early morning.
As a National Human Rights Institution, we are extremely concerned at the established pattern of either unwillingness, failure, refusal or negligence by the Police to arrest and prosecute individuals associated with the ruling party that commit human rights violations and crimes, particularly against their political opponents.
For instance, there is documentary evidence in form of a video that has been circulating for almost a month showing individuals verbally abusing NDC leader Dr. Chishimba Kambwili and his mother but to date, the suspects have not been arrested.
Few days ago, PF members and leaders in Kabwe took the law into their own hands by storming Power FM Radio Station and hounded out Dr. Kambwili who was speaking on a programme, but no action has so far been taken against those who threatened violence and suppressed freedom of expression and media freedom. The lack of action by the police in the three stated incidents is in sharp contrast with the rapid police response against members of the opposition and other activists when they suspected or accused of breaching law and order
The Commission wishes to remind the police that selective application of the law is a human rights violation and an act of bad governance because everyone is entitled to equal protection and benefit of the law without any form of discrimination.
The Commission therefore calls upon the Government, which has the primary mandate and obligation of respecting and promoting human rights and freedoms, to seriously redress the growing and systematic violation of the Right to Equal Protection of the Law.
To this effect, the Commission will continue monitoring the action that will be taken against suspects accused of being responsible for the death of Mr. Kasongo; the individuals appearing in the video verbally abusing Dr. Kambwili and his mother and those who publicly justified taking the law into their own hands by disrupting a live discussion programme at Power FM Radio in Kabwe on 30th April 2019.
Addressing impunity in violating human rights and committing heinous crimes such as murder is one of the key indicators of the country’s commitment to meeting its human rights obligations and fostering a democratic and inclusive governance environment for sustainable development.
[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambian (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 to promote and protect Human Rights in Zambia]
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION