The U.S. government has reported serious issues of human rights in Zambia. In order to increase accountability, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. These reports are to now be made annually and made public.
By compiling Human Rights Reports, the U.S. embassies work to help improve not only their own human rights issues but also those of nations globally. The intention of these reports is to reflect the U.S.’s commitment to improving human rights around the world. Such commitment provides an example for other nations to follow.
In these reports, the U.S. government observed serious human rights issues in Zambia and looks to improve on these records. One area that is to have major emphasis is with media freedom. With officials limiting, censoring, or taking action—sometimes violent action—against media services such as radio stations or journalists that were deemed critical of the ruling party, the U.S. seeks the opportunity to step in.
Other serious issues noted are abuse by police, including unnecessary killings and beatings, gender-based violence, government corruption and child abuse. The U.S. is poised to support initiatives that promote stability of law and freedoms
Recent efforts made by the U.S. in support of human rights in Zambia include donations of $403 million against HIV/AIDS, over $4 million to civil society monitoring groups and to the Electoral Commission of Zambia to allow for better elections and plans to strengthen Zambia’s U.N. Universal Periodic Review processes as well as better implementation of the Public Order Act.
With U.S.’s help, action is now being taken by the government to monitor these issues at the local level.
After police used live ammunition to disperse protesters in Chawama Township in the capital of Lusaka, killing Mapenzi Chibulo, a young supporter of the United Party for National Development (UPND), UPND leaders Hakainde Hichilema and Geoffrey Mwamba were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and seditious practices, following a brief meeting with party supporters at a village in Mpongwe District.
Recently, the printing presses of The Post newspaper were seized by the tax authorities and its operations were shut down. When police beat and arrested editor-in-chief Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta Mazoka-M’membe and deputy mmanaging editor Joseph Mwenda, those involved with the beatings were charged with abuse.
Small strides are being made toward human rights in Zambia, despite ongoing issues. The continued support of such strides is important and provides an example for human rights around the world.
– Tucker Hallowell