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Human Rights Commission calls for Immediate Release of UPND Officials

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The Human Rights Commission (HRC or Commission) has called for the immediate release of the four United Party for National Development (UPND) officials who have been detained in Lusaka without charge for more than two weeks now.

Reacting to the detention of former Minister, Mr. Ackson Sejani, Choma Mayor, Mr. Javen Simoloka, Mazabuka Mayor Mr. Vincent Lilanda, and Choma businessman, Mr. Fines Malambo in a statement released to the media today, HRC said that the quartet has been deprived of their right to personal liberty as enshrined under Article 13 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter One of the Laws of Zambia.

HRC further said that acts of prolonged detentions without charge or trial are mainly associated with dictatorial regimes in which political persecution and other forms of human rights violations are rife, adding that Zambia is a democratic state in which respect for the Rule of Law, Constitutionalism and Human Rights must be upheld and such arbitrary detentions should not be allowed to take root.

Below is the full Statement

8th April 2021

Press Statement
For Immediate Release

RELEASE OR TAKE TO COURT THE FOUR UPND OFFICIALS DETAINED WITHOUT CHARGE FOR MORE THAN TWO WEEKS

The Human Rights Commission (HRC or Commission) calls for the immediate release of the four United Party for National Development (UPND) officials who have been detained in Lusaka without charge for more than two weeks now.

The Zambia Police Service must either grant bond to the former Minister, Mr. Ackson Sejani, Choma Mayor, Mr. Javen Simoloka, Mazabuka Mayor Mr. Vincent Lilanda and Choma businessman, Mr. Fines Malambo or take them to court because keeping them in custody for 17 days without any recourse to the courts of law is unconstitutional and constitutes gross violation of their rights.

The Commission is concerned that the quartet has been deprived of their right to personal liberty as enshrined under Article 13 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter One of the Laws of Zambia. Article 13 of the Bill of Rights, read together with Section 33 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act, Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia stipulate that a suspect deprived of their right to personal liberty without a warrant may within 24 hours of being taken into custody either be granted police bond or be taken before a competent court of law or as soon as practicable.

According to the findings of the Commission, all the detained four men are members or sympathisers of UPND based in Mazabuka and Choma Districts of Southern Province respectively but they have been detained in Lusaka for over 17 days without being charged with any offence. This action is unlawful, a violation of human rights and amounts to false imprisonment.

In an unprecedented development, so far efforts by the Commission to execute its constitutional and statutory mandate of visiting persons in detention facilities and seeking redress of human rights violations in this case have been frustrated.

This gives a regrettable impression of a worrying deteriorating human rights situation and it must be redressed because it is not good for national development.

The Commission wishes to advise the police to release the detained men immediately if they do not have any evidence against them or charge and grant them bond or immediately take them to court where they may apply for bail instead of continuing to violate their constitutional and human rights.

Acts of prolonged detentions without charge or trial are mainly associated with dictatorial regimes in which political persecution and other forms of human rights violations are rife.

Zambia is a democratic state in which respect for the Rule of Law, Constitutionalism and Human Rights must be upheld and such arbitrary detentions should not be allowed to take root.

Mweelwa Muleya
Spokesperson
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION