THE Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) is appalled at the emerging trend of unrestrained violation of constitutionally guaranteed civil and political rights of opposition politicians in Zambia.
In a statement, CiSCA chairperson Bishop John Mambo stated that the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of former Kafue member of parliament Obvious Mwaliteta and others on a year pre-trial detention and the recent detention of Saviour Chishimba for eight days on a bailable and bondable offense was inimical to the democratic process.
He stated that CiSCA demands that the government respects all constitutional provisions without fail.
Arbitrary deprivation of liberty that opposition politicians are being subjected to on a daily basis is unconstitutional and if the PF government does not exercise restraint, it will soon become a textbook example of why states are regarded as the biggest violator of human rights, especially with the current weak oversight institutions,
Bishop Mambo stated.
“What Mwaliteta, Chishimba and others such as HH (UPND leader Hahainde Hichilema) have experienced and are experiencing has violated a number of their fundamental human rights inclusive of freedom of expression, association and assembly, protection against torture, cruel inhuman treatment or punishment, the latter being a non-derogable right even in a full blown state of emergency.”
He stated that denying individuals the full protection of the law was nothing but a sign of a failed state. Bishop Mambo stated that despotic political leaders the world over used arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
This prompted the Human Rights Council of the UN to set up a Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and we urge the victims to communicate to this group to seek remedy. The Working Group does not require the exhaustion of local legal remedies as treaty bodies do. However, the communication has to have meticulous documentation of their experiences,
“CiSCA cannot believe that despite the PF government having made a gigantic ‘song and dance’ during the assenting to the amended Constitution ceremony in 2016 it can put the Constitution on their top shelves and opt to be guided by their base instincts in their efforts to desperately hang on to their hegemony.”
Bishop Mambo reminded the PF that constitutionalism was a non-negotiable democratic tenet and that CiSCA and all well-meaning citizens would not stand by and let the Constitution be wantonly violated.
He stated that CiSCA would continue to demand that the Zambian government respects all constitutional provisions without fail.
Denying individuals to secure protection of the law as contained in article 18 is nothing but a symptom of a failed state and therefore, the excuses by the police that they receive orders from ‘above’ to detain people more than the required period needs to be brought to an end,
Bishop Mambo stated.
He stated that the unprofessional practice by the police to deny political or any detainee bond through their habit of vanishing in thin air and switching off all their phones when their services to sign a bond were required was an abuse of the power and authority deposited in them and a serious obstruction of justice.
Furthermore, the purely sadistic ploy of locking up people in police cells over the weekend, especially long weekends, is an injustice and must stop. A time has come for all patriotic Zambians to embrace the value of justice for all and to relentlessly pursue and bring to justice the so-called professionals, who commit evil against other people in their line of duty,
Bishop Mambo stated.
He applauded the independence displayed by judge Mwape Bowa on justice served on Mwaliteta and others.
Bishop Mambo also urged other judges and magistrates to focus on dispensation of justice, blind to political or other affiliations.
For those judges that are afraid of political repercussions while discharging their duties, we urge them to voluntarily resign. Or, if they are being constricted in the exercise of their independence to send a communication to the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, whose mandate is to protect and enhance judges and lawyers’ independence and to improve judicial systems,
stated Bishop Mambo.