USA’s 2012 Human Rights Report on Zambia shows gross abuses

The United States of America has released it’s 2012 report on Zambia’s Human Rights record and says serious human rights abuses occurred during the year. The report has highlighted severe and gross abuses in the first year of the PF regime.

Here are some of the highlights of the abuses

  •  The most important were abuses by security forces, including unlawful killings, torture, and beatings; life- threatening prison conditions; and restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly, and association.
  • Other serious human rights problems included arbitrary arrest, prolonged pretrial detention, arbitrary interference with privacy, government corruption, violence and discrimination against women, child abuse, trafficking in persons, discrimination against persons with disabilities and based on sexual orientation, restrictions on labor rights, forced labor, and child labor.
  • The government generally did not take steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses, and impunity remained a problem.
  • There were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. Senior officials encouraged police officers to use their weapons when apprehending suspects, despite a government directive that restricted the use of firearms by officers and a government pledge to retrain police on the use of force.
  • Prison conditions were harsh and life threatening due to outbreaks of disease, food and potable water shortages, gross overcrowding, and poor sanitation and medical care. Delays in court proceedings caused by an inefficient judiciary contributed to the holding of large numbers of pretrial detainees for extended periods.
  • On August 13, police detained and then released on bail opposition political leader Hakainde Hichilema for allegedly “uttering words likely to cause public fear and alarm.”
  • On December 16, police arrested and detained opposition political leader Nevers Mumba along with four other senior members of his party and erroneously charged them with unlawful assembly for holding a public meeting without a police permit.
  • Freedom of Press: The two most widely circulated newspapers and the only television station with national coverage were government-run. The third most widely circulated private newspaper was owned by a presidential ally.
  •  The government remained sensitive to media criticism. On August 12, Clayson Hamasaka, head of media studies at a government journalism school, was fired because he allowed the interview of an opposition party leader at the school radio station. On September 4, the government threatened to close the University of Zambia’s radio station after it broadcasted a program featuring Richard Kapita, opposition UPND vice president.
  • In October the government attempted to deregister the blog Zambian Watchdog but was unsuccessful because the blog was hosted abroad and therefore outside government control.
  • There were cases of police violently dispersing protesters. For example, on June 7, police beat 44 peaceful UPND protesters.

See the full report on the USA embassy website here

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