The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) strongly condemns the ill-treatment of youths suspected to have defamed President Hakainde Hichilema by the Zambia Army officers in Chiengi District of Luapula Province on 15th June 2022.
The Commission is shocked and gravely concerned at the apparent lack of remorse by the Zambian Army as evidenced by the justification of the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of the youths through a media report attributed to the Director General for Civil Military Affairs, Brigadier General Genoh Muke.
Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is absolutely prohibited under international and regional human rights instruments that Zambia is a party to as well as under Article 15 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia. For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission is of the view that even a “few slaps” can and do amount to brutality contrary the position taken by the Zambia Army. It is, therefore, deeply regrettable that the Zambia Army can attempt to justify a violation of the Constitution and human rights, in a democracy such as Zambia.
The Commission wishes to explicitly state that it does not support any form of hate speech such as insulting language, expression of hatred, discrimination and any form of expression that violates the rights and reputation of any individual because that is outside the ambit of freedom of expression and opinion. However, respect for the rule of law, human rights and constitutionalism, which the New Dawn Government espouses to uphold, demands that suspects should be subjected to the due process of the law. In this case, Law Enforcement Agencies are mandated to apprehend or arrest suspects and facilitate their appearance before the courts of law within twenty-four hours or as is reasonably practicable or consider granting them bond as provided for under section 33 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia. It is only the courts of law that are legally mandated to hand down prescribed punishment/s to suspects (which incidentally does not include a “few slaps”) when they are convicted of an offence, as guided by Article 18 of the Constitution.
Finally, the Commission is closely monitoring the case involving the youths with a view of ensuring that their rights to liberty and to secure protection of the law as enshrined under Articles 13 and 18 of the Constitution are upheld and protected.
Mudford Z. Mwandenga
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION