Inaugural Statement of the Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights of Zambia
October 3, 2012
To all citizens of the Republic of Zambia:
Approximately one year ago, Zambian voters went out to the polls to exercise their democratic right to suffrage to select new leadership. Just one year later, these same constitutional and internationally recognized rights to free and fair association, political competition, and freedom of expression are under threat by an increasingly authoritarian state.
President Michael Sata and some members of the ruling Patriotic Front party have in many instances violated local and international law in their treatment of political opposition parties. In response, victims of state persecution are hereby announcing the foundation of a new cooperative organisation – the Coalition for Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR) – in order to defend civil rights in Zambia.
The formation of this coalition has become necessary because of the growing illegality and violence initiated by individuals among the Executive abusing state power to advance their private and political interests.
As lawyers dedicated to the rule of law and democratic values, we are duty-bound to assist those whose political, civil and constitutional rights are violated. Our doors are open to all those who have suffered unlawful treatment at the hands of the Patriotic Front government over their beliefs, irrespective of ideology, ethnic origin, or agenda. The CDDR shall operate on a non-partisan basis, strictly focused on the observation of civil and human rights.
Among the first actions of the CDDR will be the submission of a comprehensive document detailing the Patriotic Front’s legal violations and judicial interference for submission before relevant international bodies.
It is our intention to make the international community aware of the current abuse of rights and threats of violence being deployed by this government, paving the way for future prosecution and accountability for the unlawful conduct currently being committed by the Patriotic Front.
The judiciary has bravely fought to maintain its independence from increasing interference and political pressure by the ruling party. The CDDR will act in defence of judicial independence and will expand these grievances to international forums to seek redress.
In future communications the CDDR will provide documentary evidence and factual support of the state’s campaign of harassment and persecution against opposition parties, with the aim of restoring civility and adherence to rule of law in the political discourse.
We hope that you will join us in our effort to enforce accountability on behalf of the elected leadership.