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Amnesty International Report 2002 - Zambia

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 28 May 2002
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2002 - Zambia , 28 May 2002, available at: [accessed 22 October 2017]
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.

Covering events from January-December 2001

Republic of Zambia
Head of state and government: Levy Mwanawasa (replaced Frederick Chiluba in December)
Capital: Lusaka
Population: 10.6 million
Official language: English
Death penalty: retentionist

At least 20 people were shot dead by police. Torture of criminal suspects was extremely common. Freedom of expression and assembly were repressed. The number of people unlawfully detained for prolonged periods increased. There was also a rise in the number of people, especially women, abducted by police because they were related to suspects. At least 10 people were sentenced to death; no executions were carried out.


Shortly before the 1998 World Bank Consultative Group meeting in Paris, the Zambian government had pledged to implement major policing reforms, including human rights training and the establishment of a Police Complaints Authority. However, by the end of 2001, there was little evidence these reforms have been carried out.

During 2001, public debate focused on whether the Constitution should be changed to allow President Frederick Chiluba to run for a third term, with police repressing demonstrations by those opposed. In April, dozens of parliamentarians and senior cabinet officials left the ruling party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy. In May President Chiluba announced he would not seek re-election.

The long-awaited "tri-partite" elections for president, parliament and local office were held in December, and Levy Mwanawasa was sworn in as president amid allegations by local civil society and European Union observers that the election was not fair.

Police shootings

By the end of the year, the number of fatal police shootings was rising steadily. Some shootings took place in front of eyewitnesses, apparently on the assumption that officers would not be investigated, disciplined or charged with homicide. At least three children under two years of age and a five-year-old girl were shot, apparently accidentally, by police.

  • A paramilitary police officer on security duty at the Lusaka home of Gibson Zimba, the financial administrator in the President's Office, shot dead three secondary school teachers – Fumu Chimuonga, Edon Mupenda and Kelvin Nyirongo – on 7 September in suspicious circumstances. Police later alleged that the three were part of an armed group of five burglars trying to break into the house, but no gun was found on the bodies. Post-mortems indicated that the victims were shot in the head and body several times with more than one firearm. The police officer involved remained on active duty during a police investigation into the deaths. An inquest was scheduled for January 2002.
Torture and intimidation by police

In November, the UN Committee against Torture expressed concern at allegations of continuing, widespread use of torture and apparent impunity for perpetrators. The Committee noted that the government agreed in November at the Committee meeting to incorporate the crime of torture into the Criminal Code, and had enacted measures to protect and monitor people in custody. Yet police routinely tortured suspects in criminal cases; family members and witnesses were also at risk. Torture was apparently more frequent, but rarely reported, in remote rural areas. Most civil suits against police for torture were settled for small amounts of compensation. Most complaints did not result in disciplinary action against the officers involved.
  • Cairo Daka was arrested in Lusaka in September, accused of stealing from his employer, and tortured to death by police. Officers allegedly used a long iron bar to beat him during interrogation. His wife alleged that, in two separate incidents, police abducted her, undressed her, beat her with a whip and then tied her to an electrical pole and threatened to shoot her. Two officers were arrested and charged with murder, but had not been tried by the end of 2001.
Freedom of expression and assembly

Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested from February onwards in the context of the continuing controversy over a third term for President Chiluba. Police frequently demanded that protest organizers obtain a police permit, although this was no longer required by law. Two separate High Court rulings in April stated that such police actions were unconstitutional and "in bad faith". Nevertheless, police continued to use tear gas, beatings and arrests to break up opposition rallies that did not have a permit, calling them unlawful. Police continued to break up peaceful public events and even threatened to arrest anyone honking their car horn on Fridays, seen at the time as an expression of opposition to a third term for President Chiluba.


A victims support unit, based in police stations, set up in 1996 continued to assist women victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, although its budget remained inadequate.

There was a worrying pattern of police abductions of family members in order to force criminal suspects to "voluntarily" surrender themselves.
  • Following a public protest in June by some 100 schoolgirls at Chinsali Girls' Secondary School, police arrested all 100 of the girls and held most of them in jail for a week after a magistrate denied many of them bail. Police subsequently dropped all charges but later threatened to arrest, charge and imprison the girls should they ever demonstrate publicly again.
Death penalty

At least 10 people were sentenced to death; no one was executed during the year.
  • Mabvuto Jere, aged 27, was sentenced to death for stealing a bicycle. The death sentence is mandatory in Zambia for armed robbery and he had threatened to assault the owner of the bicycle.
AI country reports/visits


AI delegates visited Zambia in February and July.
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