The Human Rights Commission (HRM) is investigating reported cases of sexual abuse of pupils and Kasama Girls Secondary School in Northern Province to establish their authenticity and ensure that culprits are dealt with accordance with the laws pertaining to gender based violence.
HRM Spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya said in the statement today that the Commission will also investigate allegations of sexual abuse of female police recruits at Lilayi Police Training College.
Mr. Muleya disclosed that so far one female has officially lodged a complaint with the Commission.
He said depending on the findings of the investigations, the Commission will engage the Zambia Police Service to ensure that perpetrators of girls and women sexual exploitation and abuse are appropriately punished for acts of either rape, defilement or as the case may be.
He reaffirmed that rape and defilement are serious forms of violence and human rights against women and girls and constitute a crime against humanity as it is used as a weapon of compromising the vulnerable women into harmful sexual practices.
Sexual abuse is the worst form of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment women and girls suffer at the hands of their perpetrators and it has long lasting physical and psychological impact that violates their inherent dignity and worth of a person.
The Commission has acknowledged the pledge by the Government through the Ministry of General Education and the Ministry of Home Affairs to investigate the allegations of sexual abuse at the two respective institutions.
Mr Muleya said such publicly pronounced commitments are in line with the Government’s national, regional, and international human rights obligation to protect victims of human rights violations through effective and prompt investigations and punishing of perpetrators and granting effective remedies to victims and must be implemented.
He noted that the Government has an obligation under Article 15 of the Zambian Constitution, Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment to protect the victims and punish the perpetrators.
The Spokesperson has appealed to victims to report their ordeals to the Human Rights Commission Offices in Lusaka, Chipata, Kasama, Livingstone, Mongu ,and Ndola or call the Commission on the Toll Free Line 8181.
He said the Commission wishes to assure the victims of strict confidentiality and protection from any form of reprisal as a result of reporting cases of human rights violations.
Mr Muleya said Commission, however, wishes to appeal for honest and good faith allegations to avoid violating the rights and reputations of innocent people, particularly through the social media where they may have no recourse to defend themselves.