The Civil Society Constitution Agenda of Zambia has condemned the torture of a group of Zambian youths by the Zambian military for allegedly insulting Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema.
Civil Society Constitution Agenda called it undignified.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CiSCA Condemns both Insults against the President and Torture by the Army
Lusaka, 22 June 2022:
The Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) strongly condemns the unpalatable insults on the Republican President by a group of youths, and also the subsequent torture carried out by the army personnel on the suspected youths. Both these actions are seriously wrong and a danger to our society and go against our Bill of Rights and therefore unconstitutional.
Two wrongs do not make a right. Violation of human rights is not a response or a solution to violation of human rights!
Freedom of expression does not include un-dignifying another person. Calling out private parts of a person is not criticism but unruliness and just acts of primitive savagery.
But the fact that the youths were hurling such insults at the Republican President and his parentage is even more reprehensible in a so-called Christian Nation!
Therefore, the youths should face the law as currently provided for in Section 69 of the Penal Code.
CiSCA is appalled by the reaction of the Zambia Army personnel who brutalized the suspects.
It was a violation of Article 15 of the Zambian Constitution which protects without any derogation any person against torture, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment.
The High Court ruling in the John Banda vs the People of 1999 put a stop to this debate. The Judge ruled that caning someone as a punishment for someone who has broken the law is contrary to Article 15 of the Constitution and constitutes torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment. Further, the army usurped the role of the police in carrying out the arrest.
The army’s role is clearly defined in both Article 197 of our Constitution and the Defence Act, chapter 106 of the laws of Zambia.
The provisions therein do not include torturing persons who are suspected or alleged or even found committing a cognizable offence.
We find Zambia Army Director for Civil Military Affairs’ statement that a “few slaps from soldiers is not brutality as even he felt like melting when he heard the insults,” dangerous for a democratic country with proper viable state institutions and laws.
State institutions should be above such emotional reactions or justifications as this is a recipe for militarization of our law and order which would lead to Zambia becoming a military state.
Zambia ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights from which Article 15 of our Constitution is derived as far back as 1984!
The Human Rights Committee that supervises the States Party’s implementation of the Covenant defined torture as inflicting physical pain by state agents for the purpose of eliciting information! It is our considered view that the video of the soldiers represents all these elements.
We urge human rights lawyers to, on pro bono basis, sue the State for compensation on behalf of the youths as happened in the Captain Stephen Lungu alias Solo case of torture, even as the youths too face consequences of their actions.