The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) calls upon the Government to immediately establish an inquest to establish the identity of individuals responsible for shooting to death of a State Prosecutor, identified as Mr. Nsama Nsama, and a suspected UPND sympathiser identified as Joseph Kaunda, in Lusaka on 23rd December 2020.
Preliminary investigations by the Commission have established that Mr. Nsama, a State Prosecutor working for the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) and Joseph Kaunda, a Kafue based UPND sympathiser were shot dead, about 10 metres from each other near the NPA offices.
Mr. Nsama had just gone across his office to get a snack from a restaurant which is about 20 metres away from NPA head offices while Mr. Kaunda was walking on the road between the said restaurant and the NPA Offices when they were gunned down.
This unfortunate incident happened when the police officers were dispersing people who had gone to offer solidarity to the United Party for National Development (UPND) President, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, who was summoned to Police Force Headquarters.
The Commission witnessed the police firing tear smoke canisters at a peaceful crowd at the High Court Grounds and some officers physically chasing individuals around Cabinet Office area. Some workers in offices near Cabinet Office, including officers of the Human Rights Commission, were choked by the tear smoke in their offices. Gunshot sounds were heard blasting as the police officers dispersed the crowds and some security offices found at the scene intimated to the Commission that the sound was that of live bullets.
The Commission is shocked at the indiscriminate use of live ammunition by the police in an area surrounded by public offices such as Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Justice, the British High Commission, and others including private places such as the Restaurant where the majority of workers around go to eat from.
The unnecessary display of warfare tactics and use of excessive force by the police in the recent past has been unprecedented. The killing of Mr. Nsama is a classic example of the unreasonableness, unjustifiable, unnecessary, reckless and arbitrary use of excessive force by the Zambia Police Service. As a result, lives continue being lost through extra-judicial killings, which is unlawful killing of an individual by the state.
Many have been widowed and orphaned while relatives, friends and colleagues have lost their beloved ones at the hands of state agents, who have continued to go scot free, thereby creating a vicious cycle of impunity. The socio-economic deprivation, the emotional pain and the political tension caused by such gross violation of the right to life are unbearable and the Government has an inescapable obligation to stop that.
The Commission calls upon the Government to create a conducive governance environment anchored on respect for the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights while maintaining law and order in order to protect, and not to eliminate, lives.
The Commission will within its mandate and powers continue investigating the reported extra-judicial killings. However, the Government has a primary obligation to protect human rights of individuals within its jurisdiction, and in this case the right to life has been violated by suspected state agents.
It is for this reason that the Commission is calling upon the Government to establish an inquest in line with the provisions of sections 4 and 28 (1) (c) of the Inquests Act, Chapter 36 of the Laws of Zambia, in order to establish the perpetrators and institute appropriate criminal charges.
Further, the Police Command has an obligation to avail suspected police officers so that they are subjected to the due process of the law.
Mweelwa Muleya (Mr.)
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION