THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION COMMENDS THE GOVERNMENT FOR ADOPTING THE CRIMINALISATION OF TORTURE BILL
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]
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION