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Human Rights Commission calls for law against torture

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) says there is need for a law that will criminalise torture.
HRC director Florence Chibwesha said it is regrettable that there is no law in Zambia that defines and criminalises the vice.
Ms Chibwesha was speaking in Siavonga on Saturday during an engagement workshop with parliamentarians on the criminalisation of torture, bail and bond reforms and the universal periodic monitoring framework.
“Regrettably, there is no law in Zambia that defines and criminalises torture. As a result, culprits of torture are being prosecuted under provisions in Penal Code Act Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia which relate to assault and occasioning of actual bodily harm,” she said.
Ms Chibwesha said this kind of punishment falls far short of the country’s obligation to the United Nations Conventions Against Torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
She said the need for criminalising torture is urgent because the Zambian government has ratified the United Nations Convention against torture and other cruel and inhuman tendencies.
Ms Chibwesha said HRC is also concerned about the ineffective application of the right to bail and bond to accused persons.
She said the commission has continued to receive complaints of accused persons facing challenges to obtain bail or bond, which is an entitlement to every accused person.
Ms Chibwesha said this has contributed to unnecessary overcrowding in detention facilities and prisons causing serious violation of human rights of accused persons who are constitutionally presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
And Ikeleng’e member of Parliament Elijah Muchima says there is need for the appointment of a commissioners at HRC so that it becomes more effective.
He said it is saddening that the HRC has been operating without commissioners for some time, making it unhelpful to vulnerable people.