Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2008 - Zambia

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 28 May 2008
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2008 - Zambia, 28 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/483e27bfc.html [accessed 21 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA

Head of state and government: Levy Mwanawasa
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
Population: 12.1 million
Life expectancy: 40.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 169/153 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 68 per cent


Freedom of expression, assembly and movement were restricted, especially in the context of continuing controversy over constitutional reforms. A bill which threatened to restrict the activities of NGOs was put before Parliament.

Background

President Levy Mwanawasa further delayed the constitutional review process, which was rescheduled for completion in 2011. The controversial National Constitution Conference Act was passed in August. Concerns were raised that the Act was not consistent with the recommendations of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), which had called for the Constitution to be repealed and replaced.

The trial of former President Frederick Chiluba on charges of corruption was repeatedly postponed because of his poor health. However, in May, in a case brought by the Zambian government against Frederick Chiluba and 19 of his associates, the High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that Frederick Chiluba "actively participated" in large-scale money laundering in which two UK law firms were also complicit.

Freedom of expression and assembly

There were further reports of government officials threatening journalists critical of the government. Civil society organizations supporting the recommendations of the CRC found their freedom of assembly restricted.

  • On 19 July, police in Lusaka prevented Q-FM, a private radio station, from covering live a demonstration outside Parliament organized by the OASIS forum, a coalition of civil society and church groups, and the Collaborative Group on the Constitution. Though the conveners of the demonstration had informed the police in advance, police claimed that the demonstration was illegal.
  • In November, the government temporarily withdrew the passport of opposition leader Michael Sata after he returned from the USA where, in an address to students, he was allegedly critical of Chinese investments in Zambia. The Minister of Home Affairs, Ronnie Shikapwasha, accused him of obtaining the passport without following procedure.

Legal developments

In July the government introduced the NGO Bill in Parliament. Among other provisions, the Bill seeks to empower the Interior Minister to form a board comprised of eight government representatives and two representatives from civil society. The Board would have the power to reject applications for registration of an NGO if its proposed activities do not fit with an undefined "national development plan" for Zambia. Without proper safeguards, there were fears that some of the provisions of the Bill could be used by the government to curtail the work of civil society organizations and restrict their independence. In August, following pressure from civil society, the Minister of Justice deferred parliamentary debate on the Bill to allow for further consultation.

Death penalty

There were no executions in 2007. President Levy Mwanawasa commuted 97 death sentences to life imprisonment in August 2007. The commutation was without prejudice to the right of the prisoners to appeal for further clemency.

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