SUPREME Court judge Mumba Malila says he will continue to sharpen his skills so that he becomes a better professional on the bench.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed justice Malila as a member of its Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions.
Other appointees include Australian Leigh Toomey as Chair-Rapporteur, Elina Steinerte from Latvia as Vice-Chair, and Korea’s Seong-Phil Hong.
Responding to The Mast query yesterday, justice Malila said his appointment was also an endorsement of Zambian professionals.
“The appointment also presents another opportunity for me to expand my international horizons; to deepen my skills in the art of discernment which I hope can only make me a better judge. The appointment is also an endorsement that Zambian professionals in general are in just as good a position as any others to compete for UN appointments when given a fair opportunity to do so,” he said. “Zambians will do well to look for and find these opportunities personally and compete for them. Although I do not represent Zambia on the Working Group there is no doubt that this appointment will no doubt give Zambia added visibility for the right reasons within the special procedure mechanisms in the UN system.”
Asked what the appointment meant for him, justice Malila expressed deep humility.
“The appointment is for me quite humbling. In the UN qualifications, experience and professionalism still matter. The UN as an institution still values merit, experience, qualifications and broad representation. The appointment is a welcome recognition of my expertise in human rights,” justice Malila said. “The considerable experience that I have in the area of human rights, garnered locally as chairperson of the Human Rights Commission; as a member and vice-chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as my vast experience as Attorney General of Zambia, has not gone unnoticed at the international level.”
Asked for his views on the current state of human rights in the country and prospects for the future, justice Malila responded: “It is uncontroverted that there is much to be done to improve the human rights situation in Zambia. One continues to hope that the various human rights challenges facing the country will be addressed sooner rather than later.”
The Working Group is a mechanism of the UN made up of five recognised human rights experts appointed by the chairperson of the Human Rights Council to among other things, investigate cases of arbitrary deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily.
The group is mandated to seek and receive information from governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.
It also receives information from the individuals concerned, their families or their representatives.
The committee further acts on information submitted to its attention regarding alleged cases of arbitrary detention by sending urgent appeals and communications to concerned governments to clarify and to bring to their attention these cases.
Additionally, it conducts field missions upon the invitation of government, in order to understand better the situations prevailing in countries, as well as the underlying reasons for instances of arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
Other duties include formulating deliberations on issues of a general nature in order to assist states to prevent and guard against the practice of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and to facilitate consideration of future cases.
The committee is also tasked to present an annual report to the Human Rights Council presenting its activities, findings, conclusions and recommendations.
The five experts are independent and do not represent their governments.
The work of the group is advisory and is undertaken on part-time basis.