The Human Rights Commission condemns the action of suspected PF cadres in Ndola who prevented Matero Member of Parliament Miles Sampa from landing to address a media briefing in Kitwe, reports Pan African Radio journalist Hermit Hachilonde.
Below is the complete statement issued by Mweelwa Muleya the Chief of Information, Education and Training
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
24th January, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Government should take firm action on curbing continued Political Violence
The Government must take a firm and decisive action on curbing the continued political hooliganism and violence which is infringing on the fundamental freedoms and human rights of citizens to freely participate in the public affairs of the Country.
The conduct of political party cadres at Simon Mwansa Kapepwe International Airport in Ndola on Saturday where they blocked the plane carrying the Matero Member of Parliament, Mr. Miles Sampa and his team from landing and go to launch his political party constitute a gross violation of his political rights. The illegal action also violates the constitutional rights of citizens who may have been interested in receiving information and ideas from him in order to make an informed decision and consequently choice in their voting.
The Commission is particularly concerned that the disruption of political party meetings by political party cadres is becoming a growing and systemic pattern of human rights violations in Zambia which needs high level political intervention to stop. The invading of an Airport demonstrates the high and dangerous levels of impunity of political party violence and undermines the rule of law. It is a political problem which requires a political solution in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the majority citizens and other political players.
The fundamental freedoms and human, rights of citizens to participate in the affairs of the country without any form of interference are enshrined in the Zambian Constitution and various International Human Rights Instruments which Zambia has ratified.
Zambia is a multiparty democracy and Article 60 of the 1991 Constitution as amended Act Number 2 of 2016 guarantees the rights of political parties to disseminate information on their programmes and ideologies. Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution under the Bill of Rights guarantees the rights to freedoms of Association, Assembly and Association.
It is therefore the inescapable duty of the Government, through various state actors, to enforce the upholding of the Bill of Rights, and abide by its international obligations to respect and protect human rights.
The Commission has noted with a sense of encouragement the positive statements made by President Edgar Lungu against political violence and the need be the Police to apply the Public Order Act fairly and firmly. It is however worrying that the Presidential pronouncements and direct seem not to be implemented on the ground as evidenced by the continued violations of political rights and freedoms.
The Commission has also noted the positive efforts that are being made by the Zambia Police Service to orient the officers in basic human rights and in particular the application of the Public Order Act through the on-going training in which the Human Rights Commission is involved. The Commission is however concerned that such positive efforts may just end up being an academic exercise if they will not be supported by high level political direction to stop the cadres from harassing and assaulting citizens, regardless of their political affiliation.
There should be evident and effective sanctions against cadres involved in breaching public order and peace as a deterrent measure against such undemocratic and criminal behavior.
The protection and promotion of freedoms of expression, assembly, association and movement are critical as the country prepares for the 11th August 2016 General Elections. There is need therefore to treat the on-going violations as a threat to a conducive environment to free participation of all the electoral stakeholders in the upcoming general elections.
This appeal goes to all political parties to respect the rule of law and specifically and publicly reprimand their members who engage in violence and other illegalities. The Zambia Police Service must also play its constitutional mandate of upholding the rights and freedoms of all citizens without any form discrimination, particularly political affiliation which has for a long time now been a source of rampant violation.
Participation of citizens in public and political activities is a fundamental human right in a democracy as it facilitates the ability of citizens to make informed decisions to vote for a party or candidate of their own choice without any form of intimidation.
Chief of Information, Education and Training
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION