16th March 2017
For immediate Release
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is deeply disturbed at the reported physical and indecent harassment of a female police officer allegedly by a senior government official during the Under 20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on 12th March 2017.
The reported case of physically and indecently victimising a female police officer, hardly a week after commemorating the International Women’s Day, is quite disappointing to the human rights fraternity and must be profoundly condemned.
The HRC is particularly concerned that the reported human rights violation was allegedly committed by a senior government officer, against a law enforcement officer, and four days after the reported abuse, neither a concrete action against the suspected perpetrator has been undertaken nor an official statement issued from the Zambia Police Service. This is not the way in which the Zambia Police Service is publicly known to operate in normal circumstances.
The Commission is aware of many cases where individuals have been arrested, detained and charged with an offence of obstructing the Police from executing their duties. The police officer was executing her official duty of enforcing law and order when she was not only obstructed, but also physically and indecently manhandled. It is shocking that her case seems to be treated differently.
The HRC is raising this concern because there were a number of police officers within the vicinity of the alleged scene of crime, and the case was officially reported at Matero Police Station, but regrettably, no concrete steps seem to have so far been undertaken to ensure that justice is done. Such lack of action against perpetrators of human rights and crimes only serve to confirm allegations and fears of selective and discriminatory application of the law, to the detriment of respect for human rights.
The Commission is therefore calling for thorough, fair and impartial investigations of the alleged violation in order for justice to be done. The Commission also calls for effective protection of the victim from any form of further victimisation, harassment or ridicule at the hands of the alleged culprit and/or his agents.
The Commission considers the harassment of a police officer allegedly by a known senior government official as a high profile case of lawlessness and impunity. Such unfortunate state of affairs must not be allowed as Zambia is a constitutional democracy in which all individuals must have equal protection and benefit of the law in accordance with Article 18 of the Bill of Rights.
The Commission wishes to appeal to the Government to demonstrate commitment to their national and international obligations of respecting and protecting human rights without any form of discrimination.
In concluding, the HRC wishes to remind the Government of the direct correlation between respect for human rights and promoting sustainable socio-economic development. It must be appreciated that ignoring to take effective steps to redress human rights violations of individuals, regardless of their status and that of their perpetrators in society, has potential to dent the good governance record of the country and consequently undermine its socio-economic development agenda, thereby compounding human rights challenges in the country.
[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 and obligation of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted]
Mudford. Z. Mwandenga (Mr)
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION