The Human Rights Commission is still concerned over the absence of law criminalising torture in Zambia
The Human Rights Commission has raised deep concern over Zambia’s handling of perpetrators who commit acts of torture. Arguing that they are still being charged with lesser offences of assault than the grave nature of torture because of the absence of the law criminalising torture in Zambia.
The commission is thus placing pressure on the Zambian government to speed up the process of enacting the long overdue law in Zambia of criminalising torture, which will finally see the appropriate punishments given to perpetrators, and remedies to victims of torture.
The Commission spokesperson Mwelwa Muleya said she was deeply concerned that because of the absence of an Anti-Torture Act in Zambia, individuals who commit heinous acts of torture continue being charged with lesser offences of Common Assault and Assaults Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm as provided for under Sections 247 and 248 of the Penal Code Act, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
“Article 4 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ((UNCAT)) obliges State Parties such as Zambia to enact laws that criminalise acts of torture and make such offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account the grave nature of torture. Zambia ratified the UNCAT 30 years ago in 1989 but she has not yet domesticated it by enacting a national legislation to give legal effect to the global anti-torture law in Zambia”, Mr. Muleya said.
Mr Muleya recognises that the Zambian government has taken a step in the right direction by drafting the Anti-Torture Bill, which was adopted in principle by the Cabinet on December 4th 2017. However, he stressed that the evident slow enactment of the process deeply worried the Commission.
This continued neglect of the Zambian government to deliver on criminalising torture, places the Zambian people at a continued risk of suffering by consequence. In particular the more vulnerable members of society, like children who are without appropriate remedies.
The Commission has stated that it is their desire that the Bill of Criminalising Torture in Zambia will be enacted into law by the end of 2019, and that such a law should broaden the definition of torture to include acts committed by private individuals instead of only focussing on public officers.