The Human Rights Commission has appealed to Republican President Edgar Lungu to use his extended mandate to firmly and fairly promote national unity, peace, law and order as well as protect the rights and freedoms of all persons in the country.
Commission Chairperson Mudford Mwandenga expressed regret that the campaign and post-elections periods were characterized by political violence which resulted into gross violations of human rights and freedoms.
He said there is need to carry out a postmortem of the political violence so as to prevent such acts happening again which lead to human rights violations.
“Now that the elections are behind us the HRC wishes to appeal to His Excellency President Lungu to use his extended mandate to firmly and fairly promote national unity, peace, law and order as well as to promote and protect the rights and freedoms of all persons in Zambia.
“It is regrettable that the campaign and post-elections periods were characterized by political violence which resulted into gross violations of human rights and freedoms. There is need, therefore, to undertake a postmortem of the political violence with a view to prevent such acts of human rights violations and criminality from recurring in future elections. In this regard, the HRC welcomes the pronouncement by His Excellency, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, to set up a Commission of Inquiry on political violence during the just ended general elections,” he said.
He said the Commission is hopeful that the Commission of Inquiry will take the form of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which should cover the pre-election, election and post-election periods so as to establish the root causes of the violence as well as recommend on how to prevent similar human rights violations in future.
“The HRC hopes that the Commission of Inquiry will take the form of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and it should cover the pre-election, election and post elections periods in order to establish the root causes of violence and come up with recommendations on how to prevent similar human rights violations happening again. In this regard and in keeping with its statutory mandate the HRC is ready and willing to provide technical support towards ensuring that the intended Commission of Inquiry meets the UN Standard Principles and Guidelines on the Establishment and Operations of Commissions of Inquiries, Investigative or Fact-Finding Bodies on human rights violations.
“The HRC is confident that President Lungu will continue to effectively exercise his executive authority as enshrined under Article 91 (3) of the Zambian Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016, to among other measures, ensure that the diversity in languages and political opinions of the different communities of Zambia are respected as a matter of human rights,” he said.
He added “The HRC recognizes that the Office of the President is critical for any country to facilitate respect and protect human rights and freedoms of citizens and the HRC will support any measures aimed at establishing facts and finding amicable solutions to continued political violence and violation of human rights.
“Lastly, the HRC has been deeply concerned at the continued political reprisals that have been taking place in some selected private and public places such as Markets Bus Stations, business premises and homes. The injuring, disfiguring or maiming of individuals and destruction of their properties on account of their divergent or dissenting political opinions should never be tolerated as part of political competition in multi-party democracy such as Zambia.”