The Human Rights Commission calls for consolidation of democratic and human rights gains and a stop to human rights violations as Zambia celebrates 56 years of her independence.

The Commission acknowledges that Zambia has made some notable strides, particularly in the last 29 years, such as the reintroduction of multi-party democracy and a pluralistic society, the liberalisation of the market economy and the media industry which have all contributed, and continue to contribute to the advancement of socio-economic and political freedom.

It must be noted that the establishment of independent and functioning institutions of good governance is one of the landmark milestones in the consolidation of democracy and respect for human rights.

Therefore, the Commission calls upon everyone to vigilantly defend the hard earned human rights and freedoms so that the majority of citizens can have a sense of belonging to the lifeline of Zambia's National Anthem, "Victors in the struggle for the rights, we have won freedom's fight".

The Commission is encouraged that the majority of Zambians have remained resilient in defending their rights and freedoms which were gained at great cost in order to achieve independence and so that the majority of citizens can be proud and free.

Notwithstanding the achievements, the Commission has regrettably observed some claw backs from the democratic gains made so far. The closure and invasion of some independent media institutions and the escalating abuse of the Public Order Act are some of the notable regrettable undemocratic practices reminiscent of the colonial rule.

The Commission is calling for an end to discriminatory application of laws and violation of human rights and freedoms in order to realise the aspirations expressed in this year’s theme of independence celebration, which is "Our Land, Our Nation: Building our future proud and free".

The continued suppression of the rights to freedom of assembly and expression, particularly as the country counts down to 12th August 2021 Presidential and General Elections is creating political and public tension as those who are being suppressed struggle to find a democratic and free space to exercise their rights and freedoms.

It is extremely unfortunate, and it cannot be a source of national pride, that after 56 years of gaining independence the abuse of a 65 year old repressive colonial Public Order Act, which was originally designed to frustrate the independence struggle, seems to be given priority in national planning and budgeting.

Let this independence celebration be an opportunity for everyone to recommit themselves to building a united and peaceful Zambia anchored on respect for, and protection of human rights and freedoms for all.

Issued by:

Mweelwa Muleya