US senator takes up HH’s case at Capitol Hill

US senator takes up HH’s case at Capitol Hill

 

Senator Ben Cardin has already written to Edgar Lungu demanding the immediate release of HH and respect for the rule of law.

Below is full Statement:

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 26, 2017

CONTACT:
Sean Bartlett, 202.224.4651
Sue Walitsky, 202.224.4524

Cardin Writes to President of Zambia Regarding Jailed Opposition Leader

Senator Also Raises Hakainde Hichilema’s Case with Capitol Hill Press Corps
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to the president of Zambia yesterday regarding the imprisonment of that country’s opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, on what appear to be politically motivated charges.

Amid court proceedings against Mr. Hichilema beginning Tuesday and news reports that his health is deteriorating in prison, Senator Cardin also raised his case at a briefing with reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday, urging Mr. Hichilema’s release from prison and that he be treated in accordance with Zambian law.

In his letter to President Edgar Lungu, Senator Cardin noted, “Zambia is one of Africa’s most established democracies, with a long tradition of political pluralism, respect for human rights and democracy, and peaceful resolution of conflict. I am concerned that Mr. Hichilema’s detention signals the potential closing of political space in your country.”

“I urge you to take proactive steps to bring an end to politically motivated arrests, and ensure that officials who engage in such actions are held accountable in accordance with Zambian law. I also hope that you and all political actors will exercise restraint, respect the rule of law and follow due process, as expected by the Zambian people,” Senator Cardin continued.

The full text of Senator Cardin’s letter follows:

Dear President Lungu:

I write with concern about the detention of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema in the wake of the raid on his residence on April 10, and urge you to ensure that he is treated humanely, in accordance with the rights put forth in the Zambian constitution and the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights, to which Zambia is a signatory.

Zambia is one of Africa’s most established democracies, with a long tradition of political pluralism, respect for human rights and democracy, and peaceful resolution of conflict. I am concerned that Mr. Hichilema’s detention signals the potential closing of political space in your country. During last year’s general elections, the Independent Broadcasting Authority suspended licenses for three broadcast stations and raided a newspaper, ostensibly for non-tax compliance. There were also arbitrary arrests of opposition leaders and journalists.

The most recent State Department Country Report for Human Rights indicates that your government has only taken “selective and halting steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed these abuses, targeting mostly those who opposed the ruling party.” I urge you to take proactive steps to bring an end to politically motivated arrests, and ensure that officials who engage in such actions are held accountable in accordance with Zambian law. I also hope that you and all political actors will exercise restraint, respect the rule of law and follow due process, as expected by the Zambian people.

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