Zambia: Statement Calling On the Government of Zambia to Uphold Human Rights Ahead of the Upcoming Elections

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press release

On 12 August 2021, general elections will be held in Zambia wherein voters will elect a President, 156 members of parliament, and 117 district council leaders.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) calls upon Zambian authorities and political parties to commit to respecting, protecting, promoting, and ensuring full respect for human rights before, during, and after elections. We call upon the government to refrain from arbitrary arrests and detention of opposition party leaders, and to take all measures to mitigate against post electoral violence. We are concerned with the recent military deployment by President Edgar Lungu to quell electoral violence ahead of elections. We urge the government to put in place all measures to ensure that violence linked to the electoral process is prevented, the harassment of opposition parties should not be tolerated and that the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials are adhered to.

SALC urges the Zambian authorities to respect the right to freedom of expression and association, and to ensure that the rights of civil society, journalists and human rights defenders are protected. We further urge the government to refrain from oppressive measures such as internet shutdowns, a trend that has been taking place throughout the SADC region.

The government should also uphold Article 9 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples' Rights, as well as the principles enshrined in the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance.

Recent reports have stated that the State has diminished political space and silenced independent media outlets, leading to an atmosphere of intimidation and fear. We are concerned that the recent human rights violations and increasingly prohibitive legal environment will reduce the ability of civil society to monitor the upcoming elections. We accordingly call on the international community to support effective election monitoring at domestic, sub-regional and regional levels to ensure free and fair elections. We also call on the international community to demand that the Zambian State adheres to universally accepted standards for free, transparent, fair and credible elections.

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