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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Human Rights Body Welcomes Government’s move to Criminalize Torture

General News Human Rights Body Welcomes Government's move to Criminalize Torture

Human Rights Watch officials at the report launch in Lusaka on Wednesday
FILE: Human Rights Watch officials at the report launch in Lusaka on Wednesday

The Human Rights Commission wishes to commend the Government for adopting the Criminalization of Torture in Zambia Bill during the Cabinet Meeting held on 4th December 2017.

The adoption of the Criminalization of Torture in Zambia Bill is a landmark decision towards enhanced protection of the right to freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in line with national, regional and international human rights laws. Providing legal guarantees to human rights is one of the important obligations of any government in promoting and protecting human rights and it is encouraging that the Government is demonstrating its commitment in this respect.

The Government decision and announcement could not have come at a better time than now when the international community, including Zambia, is commemorating the upcoming 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which falls on 10th December 2018 under the theme: “Stand up for Equality, Justice and Human Dignity”. Torture is an act of injustice and severely violates human dignity.

The government decision must be commended because it is long overdue. The Criminalisation of torture in Zambia will give legal effect to Article 15 of the Zambian Constitution and domesticate the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which Zambia ratified in 1998.

The enactment of a national law criminalizing torture in Zambia has been one of the recommendations which UN Member Countries have been making during the 2008, 2012 and 2017 Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) of Zambia’s human rights record. It should be noted that during all the three cycle of reviewing Zambia’s human rights record, Zambia had been accepting to enact a law criminalising torture but until now, no tangible action had been taken to implement that commitment.

The Human Rights Commission is hopeful that there will be no wavering commitment towards presenting the Bill to Parliament for enactment during the Second Session of the 12th National Assembly in 2018. It is also hoped that members of parliament will unanimously support the government efforts to enact the Anti-Torture law.

The Commission is calling upon all stakeholders and development partners to support efforts towards capacity building of law enforcement officers in modern investigation and interrogation skills as well as providing them with modern equipment in order to enable them to continue executing their duties without engaging in criminal acts of torturing and ill-treating suspects.

The Commission will continue sensitizing both duty bearers and rights holders on the importance of respecting human rights. The Commission will also continue with its human rights monitoring role and taking steps towards ending impunity in acts of torture by both State and Non-State Actors.

[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution [Amendment] Act No. 2 of 2016 with an overall mandate of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted]

Mweelwa Muleya

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  1. How about criminalizing hunger and poverty and corruption which causes them? And actually arresting the criminals in the Economic Intelligence Report and throw them in jail instead of deducting from their salaries.

  2. Since when has torture been legal…who funds this NGO? Who is Human Rights Watch? Why not lobby for stiffer punishment for corruption..

    • @ Jay Jay

      Human Rights Commission has been established by the Act of Parliament (did you read Constitution?).
      It is not NGO.
      From the date of inception to date they had been keeping mum. They did not raise single complaint during theirs parasitic tenure of office. Just another toothless body without any power to enforce the law.

  3. Where were Human Rights Commission when HH was being brutalised for 127 days in prison. PF have seen that they may lose 2021 elections hence the fear that they will be tortured the way they tortured the opposition political groups. From all the court cases involving UPND, PF have not won any of them which spells that the charges were political motivated.

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