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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 194th session
(Geneva, 20 March 2014)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of the above-mentioned individuals, all elected in the September 2011 parliamentary elections as members of political parties that are now in the opposition, which has been examined by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, pursuant to the Procedure for the treatment by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of communications concerning violations of the human rights of members of parliament,

Taking into account the information that the Speaker of the National Assembly provided on the occasion of the hearing with the Committee on 18 March 2014; taking into account the letters from the Clerk of the National Assembly dated 25 September 2013, 7 January and 24 February 2014, including the documentation which she attached; taking into account also the information regularly provided by the sources, including during the hearing that the Committee had with one of them on 16 March 2014,

Considering that, according to that source, immediately following the legislative and presidential elections in September 2011, the Patriotic Front Government embarked on a campaign of score-settling against members of the former government, abusing provisions of the Public Order Act, disrupting opposition activities and using the pretext of the “anti-corruption fight” to eliminate political competition,

Considering that, according to one of the sources, apart from a few isolated cases that have gone to trial, the accusations against opposition members have proved groundless, and that the unsubstantiated prosecutions have been abandoned in some cases, such as with respect to Ms. Sarah Sayifwanda, Mr. Mwalimu Simfukwe, Mr. Garry Nkombo and Mr. Request Muntanga, but that in others the Government is pressing on despite the absence of evidence, like in the cases of Mr. Maxwell Mwale, Ms. Dora Siliya and Mr. Ronnie Shikapwasha; considering that, according to the authorities, the latter cases, which primarily concern charges of abuse of authority at the time when the individuals concerned were ministers in the previous government, are following their normal course before the courts,

Taking into account the following observations made by the sources and the parliamentary authorities with respect to the Public Order Act:

  • According to the sources, the Patriotic Front Government has relied since its election on the police and the Public Order Act to violently disrupt public meetings organized by the opposition; the source has made reference to concrete incidents affecting opposition members of parliament that took place in June, September, October and December 2012, some of which also led to the arbitrary arrest of opposition members of parliament such as when, on 10 December 2012, Ms. Annie Chungu, Mr. Michael Katambo, Mr. Howard Kunda and Mr. James Chishiba were detained for two days under strenuous conditions without being informed of the reason and subsequently charged with unlawful assembly, which charges were dropped on 11 March 2014;

  • Following the Supreme Court ruling (Christine Mulundika and seven Others v. the People - 1995), the Public Order Act was changed so that a permit from police authorities to organize assemblies was no longer required: Instead, the organizers needed to notify the police authorities 14 days in advance; in its letter dated 24 February 2014, the National Assembly confirmed the right for members of parliament to assemble and associate freely, as noted in a circular to all members of parliament by the Minister of Home Affairs, following a meeting with the Speaker initiated with party whips in December 2013 in response to the concerns of members; the circular noted that members did not require police authorization to meet constituents to carry out their duties or merely as visitors; however, it did encourage members to inform police of such activity to enable the latter to help provide services to members;

  • The National Assembly observed that, in spite of judicial pronouncements on the administration of the Public Order Act, challenges persisted and that, while successive governments had insisted that the Public Order Act was impartially administered, the opposition felt that its administration was biased towards the Government and that the matter occasionally arose even on the floor of the House;

  • In response to the authorities’ repeated defence that they prevented certain opposition meetings from taking place in light of intelligence reports that members of another party were planning to attack the authorized march, one of the sources questioned why the police disrupted the meetings rather than arrest those who were planning to attack a legitimate procession. The source pointed out in this regard that the political party members who were planning to attack the marches were from the ruling party, which is why police failed to arrest them,

Considering that, in a letter dated 13 January 2014, the source indicated that opposition members were still facing challenges in holding meetings with their constituents,

Considering also that the source alleges that the following two parliamentarians were ill-treated at the hand of State officials:

  • On 30 May 2012, Mr. Kenneth Konga collapsed after being interrogated for many hours by a joint team of over nine interrogators from the Zambia Police Force, the Drug Enforcement Commission, the Anti‑Corruption Commission and the Zambia Security and Intelligence Services in Lusaka; Mr. Konga was rushed to Saint John’s hospital, but was later moved to the University Teaching Hospital, where it was confirmed that he had suffered a stroke; by 4 September 2013, Mr. Konga remained a patient and has been unable to effectively use his dominant hand; according to the letter of 25 September 2013 from the National Assembly, although there were media reports concerning Mr. Konga’s search and interrogation, it was unable to confirm whether or not the stroke he suffered was a result of prolonged interrogations; as far as the National Assembly was aware, Mr. Konga had never been arrested or prosecuted for any offence related to the complaint; however, he appeared in court as a State witness in a criminal case against the former Head of State, Mr. Banda; the source affirms that the National Assembly’s response in the matter is not truthful, as it was all over the papers and other media that Mr. Konga had collapsed and suffered a stroke during a long interrogation; in the February letter, the National Assembly reiterated that it could not confirm the information regarding Mr. Konga’s stroke, but it affirmed that because the interrogations were exercised by the executive branch of Government, it was not in a position to stop such interrogations; the source underlines that its contact persons in Zambia had accompanied Mr. Konga and personally witnessed several searches at his house and other properties, which had lasted for up to 10 hours;

  • On 26 February 2013, during the Livingstone constituency by-election campaign, Mr. Nkombo, an opposition member of parliament, sustained a broken arm and bruised ribs when he was allegedly assaulted, in full view of the police at Livingstone Central Police Station, by Mr. Obvious Mwaliteta, a minister in the Patriotic Front Government; Mr. Nkombo, who was in the company of another member of parliament - Mr. Request Mutanga - had reportedly gone to the police station to report an incident caused by members of the ruling party at the UPND campaign centre; according to the source, after assaulting Mr. Nkombo, the minister ordered the police to immediately arrest the two opposition parliamentarians; Mr. Nkombo was apparently denied medical attention for several days, until the courts ordered that he be taken to hospital, where it was confirmed that he had sustained a broken arm and bruised ribs; a copy of the court order and the medical report from Livingstone Hospital was provided by the source; according to the National Assembly, in its letter dated 24 February 2014, Mr. Nkombo has never asserted his rights to press criminal or civil charges against the alleged perpetrators; in the absence of such action, it stated that there could be no subsequent investigation in the matter,

Noting that, on 28 July 2013, the Supreme Court nullified the seats of opposition members Ms. Siliya, Mr. Mwale and Mr. Sililo; according to the source, their disqualification was groundless; they should have retained their seat and, at the very least, been able to stand in the by-elections for their seats; the Speaker of the National Assembly stated, as did the National Assembly in its letter of 24 February 2014, that the matter was complicated in that it required the Supreme Court to rule on whether one is eligible to re-contest his or her former seat when his/her election as a member is upheld by the High Court but overruled by the Supreme Court on grounds of corrupt or illegal practices; on 5 March 2014, one of the sources forwarded reports that the Supreme Court’s ruling had been delayed and that they had not yet ruled on the case,

Considering furthermore that, according to the source, the nullification of seats has to be seen in the wider context of action taken by the ruling party following the September 2011 elections, which produced a hung parliament; the three biggest parties in the elections for the 141 seats were the Patriotic Front, which won 66 seats, followed by MDP and UPND, with 54 and 28 seats respectively; according to the source, in order to obtain a majority in parliament, the Patriotic Front then enticed opposition members to change sides and filed numerous petitions to nullify seats held by the opposition; since then, the seats of six opposition members had been nullified, including the aforesaid three individuals; at the hearing with the Speaker of the National Assembly, he stated that, following the 2011 parliamentary elections, several opposition members had been invited to take part in the Government as junior ministers and several parliamentarians were disqualified due to their criminal record; he stated that, as a result of these developments, the Patriotic Front currently held a majority of 78 out of 141 seats in parliament,

Considering that, in response to a suggestion from the Committee, the Speaker of the National Assembly stated that a mission to Zambia would be more than welcome,

  1. Thanks the Speaker for his cooperation and for the extensive and valuable information he and the National Assembly have provided in this case;

  2. Appreciates the action which he has taken to promote respect for the right to freedom of assembly of members of parliament; is nevertheless concerned that in the past, as he acknowledged, in several instances the police overstepped its authority when parliamentarians organized meetings; is deeply concerned in this regard by the accounts of concrete incidents of alleged police harassment, including the arbitrary detention of members of parliament, and the allegation that, despite the latest steps by the executive and parliamentary authorities, members of parliament can still not exercise fully their right to freedom of assembly; wishes to understand in this regard when notification is required and what the legal consequences are of failing to provide notification;

  3. Is concerned about allegations that Mr. Konga collapsed during prolonged interrogation and suffered a stroke as a result; is eager to know if the authorities investigated this allegation and, if so, with what result; also wishes to know why Mr. Konga was interrogated, whether or not he is the subject of legal action; is also concerned about the alleged ill-treatment of Mr. Nkombo at the hands of a government minister; wishes to ascertain from Mr. Nkombo why he has not filed a complaint; considers at the same time that the absence of a complaint does not exempt the authorities from taking the alleged ill-treatment very seriously;

  4. Notes the contradictory information provided by the sources and the authorities regarding the legal basis and the facts underpinning the criminal proceedings initiated against several current and former members of parliament;

  5. Notes that at least three opposition members were disqualified; is unclear as to the precise justification for the disqualification and the applicable legal provisions;

  6. Trusts that the agreed mission can soon take place so as to enable the Committee delegation to acquire, through meetings with the relevant parliamentary, executive and judicial authorities and the parliamentarians directly concerned, a better understanding of the aforesaid complex issues; requests the Secretary General to make the necessary arrangements for this purpose;

  7. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the authorities and the sources;

  8. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report back to it in due course.

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