Zambia: New government must lift restrictions on civil liberties

Global civil society alliance CIVICUS congratulates President Hakainde Hichilema on his election as the new President of Zambia and commends the millions of people of Zambia for participating in the electoral process that has seen the transition of power from former President Edgar Lungu to a new government. The people of Zambia braved the Covid-19 pandemic, concerns of violence, and internet restrictions ahead of the elections to exercise their civic duty.

“Zambians have demonstrated to the world a resolve to chart their own democratic path in a constitutional way; to return to a space where human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected, promoted, and protected. We urge the government of President Hichilema to promote and protect human rights principles and good governance for a better Zambia.” Said Dr Paul Mulindwa, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer, CIVICUS.

Over the last five years in Zambia civil liberties deteriorated as Zambian authorities arrested journalists, suspended independent media platforms and subjected human rights activists to judicial persecution. Several activists have been targeted particularly for calling for accountability in the management of state finances and for protesting against corruption.

President Hichilema’s government has a responsibility to initiate broad consultations with civil society, reverse civic space restrictions imposed by his predecessor and respect fundamental freedoms in line with Zambia’s constitution and international human rights obligation.

We urge the new government to:

  • Carry out an independent investigation into the violence ahead of the elections and bring the perpetrators to justice. Lift the ban on all independent media outlets, particularly Prime TV, and lift all restrictions on online freedoms and create an enabling environment for independent media, journalists, and activists to freely express their views without fear of intimidation and harassment.
  • Adhere to and respect the provision of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, including not restricting access to internet as a standard practice in future elections.
  • Honour its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and all other human rights obligations and commitments.
  • Fulfil the promises made during the electoral processes including building a better Zambia, based on democratic principles.

The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Zambia as Obstructed.



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