Monday, May 20, 2013

Human rights report fraught with factual errors - Kabimba
By Moses Kuwema
Sat 18 May 2013, 14:01 CAT

JUSTICE minister Wynter Kabimba says the 2012 Zambia Human Rights Report does not reflect the correct picture of the overall human rights and governance situation in Zambuia. In his response to the 2012 Human Rights Report on Zambia by the US government, Kabimba said the report was fraught with factual errors and inaccuracies.

"A number of allegations in the report are either unsubstantiated or not supported by any empirical evidence at all. The sources are only known to the authors of the report and hence unverifiable in respect of their authenticity and or reliability," said Kabimba.

The report says there were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings and cited the incident of Edrick Simbeye, who was allegedly beaten to death on May 23, 2012.
The report further cites the incident of one Wesley Mpundu, who was allegedly fatally shot by the police on September 5, 2012 while driving to his home.

In his response, Kabimba said apart from the fact that the report opened with an alarming statement of alleged arbitrary or unlawful killings while providing only two such incidents, it failed to offer particulars of the two victims and the source of such information.
He said the report did not provide details of the district, township or village where Simbeye was killed or the residential address of Mpundu.
Kabimba said the report did not state which police station or post claimed that the shooting was accidental.

"Out of Zambia's population of 13 million, how can two incidents based on unsubstantiated facts constitute the assertion that there were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings?" wondered Kabimba.

On the report's reference to the killing of two protestors in Mongu in January 2011, Kabimba observed that the report conveniently omitted to mention the fact that President Michael Sata upon assuming office pardoned all the Barotseland detainees.

He said this was to show the government's disapproval of the continued unlawful detention of the detainees and the political reasons therefor.
Kabimba said while it was true that there were no politically motivated disappearances, the report was in contradistinction to allegations in some other quarters of stakeholders who have alleged politically motivated disappearances in Lukulu in Western Province under the PF government.

On torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Kabimba observed that the report only cited two examples of January Caesar Chalwe and Peter Berejana, devoid of any other details of the alleged victims beyond their names or the officers involved in such alleged acts of their respective police stations.

Kabimba said although the report did not specify the local chapter of the Legal Resources Foundation, he would write to the head office for details of the Chalwe incident.

On the report's reference to the Judiciary as being inefficient and hence contributing to the prison congestions as a result of holding a large number of pretrial detainees for long periods of time, Kabimba observed that this was the same Judiciary that the American government had from time to time paid glowing tribute as being functional and independent.

He said the report failed to acknowledge the policy pronouncements by the government to introduce reforms to address the pitfalls in the Judiciary.

On the role of the police and security apparatus, Kabimba observed that any alleged corruption in the police service could not be divorced from rampant corruption cultivated by the MMD government in almost all the sectors of the public service.

He said it was not true as alleged by the report that the public viewed the ongoing corruption prosecution of former MMD leaders as politically motivated.

Kabimba said this view was only shared between the UPND and MMD members as a common agenda for their political alliance against the PF.

The report made allegations against the government on freedom of the press and harassment and violence against journalists and incidents of censorship but Kabimba said the incident of photojournalist Thomas Nsama occurred during the era of MMD and not PF.

"It is not true that Mr Clayson Hamasaka was dismissed from employment on account of featuring an opposition party leader on a Hone Fm radio programme. He was dismissed after complaints of victimisation from members of staff who did not belong to his political party UPND," said Kabimba.

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