As Delivered by Osman Tat
The United States warmly welcomes Mr. Musa Mwenye, Solicitor General, Minister of Justice, and the Zambia delegation.
We commend Zambia for successfully conducting national elections in 2011, which were well run and concluded in a peaceful change in power. However, we note that the current government has infringed on the freedom of assembly by preventing some meetings of opposition parties.
We applaud Zambia for undertaking a constitutional reform process that aims to improve human rights protections for citizens and balance power between government institutions. However, Zambia has not established a legal framework for the technical committee charged with constitutional reform nor defined the process of a constitutional referendum.
We commend the draft Constitution for including a revamped bill of rights that would expand rights for women, children and persons with disabilities.
We commend Zambia for its efforts to combat trafficking in persons.
We also commend Zambia for establishing an autonomous Human Rights Commission and we urge that body to advocate for the human rights of all individuals, including from within the LGBT community.
We praise the Government’s efforts to strengthen the administration of justice and fight corruption, a phenomenon that can undermine the implementation of human rights and faith in public institutions. Nevertheless, despite Zambia’s commitment to this fight, the Anti-Corruption Commission received 1,228 cases in the past year, but only authorized 114 investigations and recorded just 15 convictions.
The United States makes the following recommendations:
- Ensure that the freedoms of assembly and expression are upheld and respect the 2003 Supreme Court ruling stating that these freedoms are fundamental.
- Hold a transparent and inclusive Constitutional reform process and referendum by ensuring that consultative bodies, such as the National and Sector Group Convention, are composed of a representative balance of civil society and government stakeholders.
- Lobby for and implement access to information legislation to encourage greater transparency and government accountability.