The Human Rights Commission (HRC) strongly condemns the beating up of its member of staff and a member of the public who was wearing a Patriotic Front (PF) T-Shirt by United Party for National Development (UPND) supporters during the nomination of their candidate for the Katuba Constituency Parliamentary by-election yesterday.
The harassment of HRC Materials Productions Officer (MPO), Mr. Oscar Chisenga, and an individual wearing a PF T-Shirt by UPND supporters is barbaric. The Commission calls upon UPND leaders to identify and hand over to Police the perpetrators to demonstrate that their call for non-violence was not mere rhetoric. Condemning violence without bringing perpetrators to account for their action is meaningless and implies supporting the crime.
The Commission is saddened that the party cadres harassed and beat up Mr. Chisenga before snatching a wallet cointaining his personal effects and a Commission Mobile Tablet, which he was using to video record them as they attacked an individual who was wearing PF regalia.
Mr. Chisenga was only doing his constitutional duty of monitoring the promotion and protection of human rights and nothing justifies his harassment and beating. Equally, the beating up of an individual wearing PF regalia was an act of high level of intolerance and lack of civility and undemocratic conduct that must be roundly condemned. Wearing anything bearing a political message is one’s democratic right, particularly freedom of expression and choice.
Therefore, political parties must educate their members that the expression of divergent views, co-existance and tolerance underpin a multi-party democratic state and a pluralistic society such as Zambia, and must be respected.
Human Rights Defenders such as human rights workers, activists and Journalists deserve protection and space to carry out their work in an environment free of intimidation, harassment or any form of harm.
Political party leaders have a primary obligation to ensure that their members and supporters maintain law and order, public safety and respect human rights during their public meetings. The Commission, therefore, calls upon the UPND leadership to help identify the perpetrators of violence in Katuba yesterday.
The Commission reiterates its call for non-violent and free election campaigns in Katuba Constituency and urge the political party leadership of the participating parties provide leadership in promoting and protecting human rights and maintaining lawn, order and public safety.
[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