The Paralegal Alliance Network, (PAN) a network of organisations and individuals promoting access to justice and human rights, is disturbed by the degrading and inhumane treatment of youths alleged to have defamed the Head of State by officers from the defence forces.
The network condemns in the strongest terms possible the uncouth utterances by the youths directed at the Head of State and urge the appropriate law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter and let the law takes its course.
PAN reminds the nation that Zambia is signatory to regional and international human rights treaties that demand that persons alleged to have come into conflict with the law be made to account for their misdeeds through the courts of law and not to be subjected to any form of torture, degrading or inhumane treatment.
“It is not within the mandate of any member of the defence forces to mate punishment on citizens who may stand accused of committing any crime. Such acts if left unchecked will escalate to levels where torture at the hands of the state and its agents will become a norm as this will not only erode Zambia’s human rights profile but degrade the dignity of any individual on the soils of this country” observes PAN Board Chairperson Eugene Kabilika.
This is in reference to a video circulating on social media depicting three (3) youths being subjected to beatings while being interrogated by (Zambia Army) officers over derogatory remarks they issued a few days ago via an online platform.
“Crime prevention cannot be done through beating people but through the right channels which are arresting, prosecution and punishment of those convicted in accordance with the law”, says Mr Kabilika.
PAN is prodding the UPND government to work towards total eradication of all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of individuals in line with the provisions of the UN Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (UNCAT) that was adopted in 1984 which Zambia ratified in 1998.
President Hichilema must seize the opportunity to move the country to domesticate the UNCAT by enacting a national law criminalizing torture within this term of office as part of his resounding commitment to upholding the democratic rule of law and good governance.
PAN wishes to implore members of the public to strive to engage in civil discourses as opposed to uttering statements that may bring them into conflict with the law and cause one to be viewed as a social deviant.
We urge citizens to use established channels to air their grievances and call upon youths to desist from using derogatory language when communicating their challenges. The use of derogatory language is a sign of lack of respect for our national values that among other things call for everyone to respect all citizens particularly the senior ones.
It is also important that we emphasize the fact that such actions are not only morally wrong but also attract legal penalties as stipulated in our laws.
According to section 69 of the penal code, any person who, with intent to bring the President into hatred, ridicule or contempt, publishes any defamatory or insulting matter, whether by writing print, word of mouth or in any other manner, is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years.
Issued on June 21st 2022
Eugene Kabilika (Mr) PAN Board Chairperson