Amnesty International Report 2007 - Zambia
|Publication Date||23 May 2007|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2007 - Zambia , 23 May 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46558eeb31.html [accessed 29 May 2015]|
REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA
Head of state and government: Levy Mwanawasa
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: ratified
There was a marked increase in the number of civilian deaths as a result of police shootings. New legislation constrained the media's ability to report on elections in September. Violent attacks on women remained common. No death sentences were carried out.
Incumbent President Levy Mwanawasa delayed the constitutional review process until 2007. This ensured that proposals for the reduction of presidential powers, greater freedom of expression, and electoral reform, did not come into play before general elections held in September 2006. The election campaign was largely peaceful.
President Mwanawasa and his ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy party won the presidential and the parliamentary election. Urban frustration at the poor performance of Michael Sata, widely expected to win the presidential race, resulted in violent clashes in Lusaka and on the Copperbelt. Over 100 people were formally arrested and charged with riotous behaviour.
The corruption case against former President Frederick Chiluba remained unresolved. After winning the election, President Mwanawasa signalled his intention to complete the case during his second term of office. In November, Samuel Musonda, a former director of the bank alleged to have been fraudulently used by Frederick Chiluba, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour.
Freedom of expression and the media
In general 2006 saw less harassment of the media by the government than 2005, although the press remained subject to censorship, especially around election time. In July, ahead of the elections, a new electoral act was passed which prohibited the reporting of "speculative analysis, unsourced opinion polls, and predictions of the result before the official announcement."
The government resisted pressure to pass the Freedom of Information Bill, which would compel public officials to release certain types of government information.
- In February, the government decided not to prosecute Fred M'membe, editor of the independent newspaper The Post. He had been charged with insulting the President in November 2005.
- In March, two journalists working for Radio Chikuni in the Southern Province were arrested and charged with publishing false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public. They were detained overnight and then provisionally released. The charge stemmed from a broadcast about a young boy found dead after going missing. The body was said to be mutilated, and local residents suspected that the boy was the victim of a ritual killing.
- In September, senior police officers visited the Lusaka-based Q-FM Radio and demanded that it cease its coverage of the elections which police claimed was "inciting the nation". The radio station had been carrying live broadcasts of press conferences, election results and post-election events.
- In November the government moved to restrict the activities of Michael Sata and his Patriotic Front party. On 22 November, President Mwanawasa instructed the police not to grant Michael Sata permission to hold post-election rallies, but the Solicitor-General, Sunday Nkonde, overruled the ban. In response, the President called on the Solicitor-General to resign. On 5 December, Michael Sata was arrested and charged with making a false declaration of his assets in August when being nominated for the presidential elections. The charge carried a minimum penalty of two years in jail.
Violence against women
A UN report released in November found that 49 per cent of Zambian women said they had been abused during their lives.
The death penalty
In November, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by two death row inmates which sought the abolition of capital punishment on the grounds that it contravened Christian values. There were 200 people on death row but there have been no executions since President Mwanawasa came to power.
There was a marked increase in the number of police shootings.
- In early September, two teenagers were shot dead by police in Lusaka's Ng'ombe compound. Following protests by local residents, the police officer involved in the shooting was arrested and was under investigation at the end of the year.
- In early October, one man was killed and another severely injured as police opened fire on a group of angry residents in Matero.
- In mid-November, three former street children were shot and wounded by police officers shooting into the air to disperse a crowd. The Acting Police Chief of Copperbelt Province condemned the shootings and announced an investigation.
In October the use of firearms on general duty patrols was prohibited, and plans were announced to retrain police officers in crowd management techniques.