THE fear of Zambians in the wake of the proclamation of Article 31 by President Edgar Lungu is justified and a clear indication of the value placed on the enjoyment of human rights, says the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections.
In a statement, JCTR hoped that the regulations pronounced for this period would not be used as a tool by government to oppress targeted groups and abuse them to achieve political advantage or gains.
It stated that ordinary Zambians must feel safe and protected by the state.
Our hope therefore is that the regulations made for this period remain reasonable, proportional and above all temporary. We further hope that the regulations are not used as a tool by government to oppress targeted groups and are not abused to achieve political advantage or gains. In addition, JCTR hopes that the judicial system maintains its role and stays a relevant tool in ensuring legality of actions and holding those who abuse their power accountable. On this premise, we advise the common Zambian to seek redress through the court system for any grievance they may have and to be patient, compliant, vigilant and knowledgeable during this period,
“Many Zambians have expressed fear in the wake of the recent proclamation made by the Republican President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu under Article 31 of the Constitution. The fear of every Zambian in this regard is a justified one and is a clear indication of the value placed on the enjoyment of Human Rights in the country. This country has enjoyed peace for over 50 years now. It is known to be a beacon of peace in Sub-Saharan Africa and Africa as a whole. Responsibility is therefore placed on all of us to ensure that it remains as such. ”
It stated that in the recent past, the country had witnessed very worrisome incidents of violence that had led to the loss of people’s property and the threatened loss of people’s lives.
“…and sadly, the events appeared to increase in intensity and had become more frequent, culminating in the recent gutting of a section of the Lusaka City Market. Speculation of the cause of these incidents had widely been shared with some claiming that these were acts of sabotage and others calling them cases of arson. It is and has always been the responsibility of the government to protect its people and their property from damage and/or loss. On this premise, government instituted investigations into the many incidents and consequently a declaration under Article 31 of the Constitution was made by the President to the effect that a situation exists which if allowed to continue may lead to a state of public emergency. Fortunately, the Inspector General of Police, Kakoma Kanganja, in a media briefing on 16th July 2017 reported that investigations into the case of the Lusaka City Market confirm that the cause of the inferno was in fact an act of sabotage or arson and some suspects in relation to the same are currently being held in custody,” JCTR stated.
It stated that the government must conclusively investigate all other incidents individually and publicly share reports of the findings so as to end speculation.
JCTR stated that it hoped the solutions to end the violence would be given to ensure public safety and that the perpetrators, if any, be brought to book within the law.