JET Stores in Lusaka has come intense condemnation from stakeholders after workers poured yellow paint on two young ladies for allegedly stealing from the store in November 2015.
The Human Rights Commission in a statement issued to the media by its Chief of Information, Education and Training Mweelwa Muleya said it strongly condemn acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of two females.
Muleya said the Commission become aware of the incident yesterday after the pictures of the two ladies went viral on social media and that independent investigations have confirmed the incident.
“The Commission became aware of this form of human rights violation yesterday, 21st March 2016, through Social Media Platforms and immediately instituted independent investigations, which established as a fact that two named ladies of Mtendere Townships in Lusaka, aged 19 and 21 years old respectively, were indeed subjected to acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment by Jet Stores Officials on 23rd November 2015 around 18:00 hours.
“The Commission has since interviewed the Stores Manager at Jet Stores, PHI, who has admitted painting the ladies with water paint, claiming that the victims consented to that kind of ill-treatment as opposed to being either fined or taken to police. The Commission has also interviewed both victims who reported that they were physically and emotionally abused by beating them with electrical cables from 16:00 hours to 18:00 hours to an extent of one of them becoming unconscious while the other one bled from the ears. The victims also claimed verbal, sexual and physical harassment during the ordeal that took place in a room where they were later forced to lay down and subjected to being painted with yellow water paint all over the body,” Muleya said.
“The Commission wishes to remind and warn both State and Non-State Actors that acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment are absolutely prohibited by Article 15 of the Zambian Constitution.
This prohibition is couched in absolute terms and no consent of the victim can waive this right to freedom from being tortured, which is aimed at protecting the inherent dignity and worth of a human being.
“It is also a breach of various Regional and International Human Rights Instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right and the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which Zambia ratified in 1998. There is no crime that justifies Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Suspects should always be reported to police who should in turn take such suspects to court, without resorting to torturing suspects under whatever circumstances.
“The Commission will summon both Jet Stores Management and the two victims for further investigations and action. The Commission is extremely concerned with increasing cases of such human rights violations. As a long term measure, the Commission is implementing Business and Human Rights projects and is also working towards facilitating the enactment of a national law criminalising torture to operationalise the Constitution and various Regional and International Human Rights Instruments,” the statement further reads.
Meanwhile YALI also added its voice and below is a statement in full.
YALI CALLS FOR ACTION AGAINST JET STORES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) calls upon the Zambian Government to prosecute JET employees at PHI Shopping Mall and take measures to ensure that that JET Shop Management are held accountable for violating the rights of 2 ladies who were painted with yellow paint on allegation of shoplifting.
It is clear that Jet Shop and it’s employees have violated the constitutional rights of the ladies by the degrading and inhuman treatment of the 2 ladies whom they suspected to have tried to shoplift from JET Stores.
Article 15 of the Zambian Constitution protects it’s citizens from being subjected to torture, or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other like treatment and both foriegn and local investors must be alive to such provisions.
We call on the Zambia Police to enforce the rights of the two ladies by bringing the employed from JET who splashed paint on the ladies to book and take measures to have the investor account for allowing such inhuman treatment from happening within the precinct of its stores.
YALI call upon the Zambian women and their movements such as NGOCC and Zambia National Women Lobby Group to conduct peaceful protest at JET Stores around the country including the demand of closure of JET stores.
We cannot allow our young mothers to be stripped of their dignity in the name of enforcing the law.