Amnesty International Report 2004 - Zambia
|Publication Date||26 May 2004|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2004 - Zambia , 26 May 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/40b5a20610.html [accessed 2 August 2015]|
Covering events from January - December 2003
Journalists perceived to be critical of the government were harassed and arrested. Media outlets were closed under the pretext that they were operating illegally. Human rights violations by the police continued. More than 50 people were sentenced to death, including 44 soldiers involved in a failed coup in 1997. No executions were carried out and reports indicated that the President would not sign execution orders.
In May President Mwanawasa appointed opposition leader Nevers Mumba as Vice-President, which resulted in a High Court challenge and impeachment proceedings by opposition parties who claimed the move was unconstitutional. The impeachment motion was defeated in August. President Mwanawasa still faced a Supreme Court petition over the results of the 2001 presidential elections. The President's ongoing anti-corruption drive resulted in the arrest of former President Frederick Chiluba. On 11 November Lusaka magistrates' court ruled that Frederick Chiluba should stand trial for theft of government funds.
Threats to freedom of expression
Freedom of the press faced continuing threats, despite the withdrawal of the Freedom of Information Bill in November 2002.
- Journalist Chali Nondo from the Monitor newspaper was arrested on 5 February and charged with "publishing false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public" in connection with a story alleging that police used charms to catch a former minister wanted for corruption. Chali Nondo was released on bail five days later. Publishing false news is an offence under Section 67 of the Penal Code and carries a maximum prison sentence of three years.
- On 24 June Masautso Phiri, editor of the Today newspaper, was summoned for police questioning in connection with a story commenting on President Mwanawasa's leadership style and an alleged coup plot. He was accused of publishing false news with intent to cause public alarm. After presenting himself to police a week later, he was issued with a "warn and caution" statement.
- On 1 November police officers raided the privately owned Omega television station in Lusaka and ordered staff to immediately cease test broadcasts. The station's closure followed a letter on 27 October by the Solicitor General Sunday Nkonde to the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, which said that the station was operating illegally and should be shut down by police. The Minister then cancelled the construction permit (a temporary broadcasting licence) of the television station stating that it was "in the public interest" to do so.
Violations by police
Torture of suspects in police custody continued as did the use of excessive force by police. The Police Public Complaints Authority, which allows individuals to lodge complaints against police, was launched on 7 May.
- On 26 March, three men – Felix Mengo, Kalengo Kalowani and Stuart Chulu – were arrested and allegedly tortured by police at Lusaka Central Police Station. According to medical reports, Felix Mengo had swollen feet, wounds on his right leg and arms, and had difficulty urinating. Kalengo Kalowani reportedly had infected wounds on both forearms, bruises on the buttocks and a swollen head. The police's Professional Standards unit stated in April that they were taking statements from police witnesses.
- Police opened investigations into the beating on 7 June of a pregnant detainee by a senior police officer and three junior officers. The woman's injuries included swollen buttocks, bruises on the left side of her body and an inflamed heel. She was later taken to hospital where doctors reportedly terminated her pregnancy as she was bleeding profusely.
- In September, police fired tear gas into a crowd of striking civil servants in Ndola. The strikers were protesting against the government's failure to pay housing allowances.