THE Human Rights Commission (HRC) has spoken against corporal punishment on those breaching the ban on public gathering.
Last Thursday, President Edgar Lungu extended by two weeks the ban on public gatherings and closure of bars, casinos, cinemas and gyms.
The Head of State also ordered that not more than 50 people attend essential gatherings such as funerals, weddings and conferences.
Following the ban, police warned that they would whip anyone found patronising bars without warning.
And true to their word, police have been dishing out ferocious beatings on people found gathered and drinking in bars and other secret places.
But the HRC is opposed to the violence meted out on those who have been found in breach of the gathering ban.
In a statement, HRC spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya said corporal punishment was “totally prohibited under Article 15 of the Constitution and under International and Regional Human Rights Law to which Zambia is a party.”
He said corporal constituted torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment.
Muleya said neither human rights nor the Constitution had been suspended as the country worked to curb the spread of the Coronavirus which has infected a million people and claimed 100,000 lives worldwide.
He said the HRC was concerned that some public officials were advocating violation of human rights against individuals failing to comply with the guidelines on COVID-19.
“The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) is calling for respect for constitutionalism, the rule of law and human rights during the enforcement of guidelines on preventing the spread of coronavirus,” Muleya stated.
“The Commission is making this call against the background of numerous complaints it has received and its own observations on actions and public statements by some public officials advocating violation of human rights against individuals failing to comply with the guidelines on COVID-19. Based on the foregoing, as a Constitutional Body mandated to promote and protect human rights in Zambia, the Commission wishes to guide that neither the Constitution nor human rights have been suspended because of Coronavirus in Zambia.”
Muleya however said everyone was required to comply with the issued guidelines because they were in line with international human rights law and meant for everyone’s protection of the right to health and life.
Muleya pointed out that the fundamentality of promoting and protecting public health and the right to life should not be a license for advocating human rights violations.
© Kalemba April 12, 2020