By Christopher Chisi
The 2017-2018 State of Human Rights Report in Zambia has revealed that congestion in correctional facilities has increased from 206 percent in 2014 to 321 percent in 2017-2018 partly due pre- trial detentions and delays in hearing of criminal appeals.
The report has also shown that 80 percent of opposition Political parties’ notices to police for holding public meetings where not authorized by police, even when the law does not give them such powers.
And speaking during the launch of the report in Lusaka today (Monday 21st October) Human Rights Commission Chairperson, Mudford Mwandenga implored various cooperating partners to continue supplementing Government’s efforts towards supporting institutions in the protection and promotion of human rights.
“Over the past few years, particularly in 2017 and 2018 issues relating to congestion in detention and correctional facilities including related violations of human rights are the major concerns for the Commission.This concern is backed by findings on the grounds which suggest that violations relating and resulting from process of accessing justice are on the increase. In fact, 35 percent of all complaints received by the commission related to, or resulted from challenges in accessing justice,” he observed.
“The Commission is aware that the government has provided under the Seventh National Development Plan, programs aimed at enhancing access to justice and protection of human rights.”
Mr. Mwandenga also appealed to the government to adequately fund pillar number Five of the SNDP which aims at improving human rights, constitutionalism and the rule of law in the country.
He bemoaned the inadequate disbursement of funds towards the decentralization of the high court and the National Prosecution Authority as well as towards enhancing case flow management as planned under the SNDP.
“The commission is confident that adequate funding and implementation of the proposed programs under pillar Five of the SNDP can effectively redress most of the challenges such as high backlog court cases, congestion in detention and correctional facilities ,inadequate in the capacities of judicial system and limitation in issuance of police bond and bail.”
Speaking when he presented the report Commission Chief Research and Planning,Foster Hamuyube called on all parties in litigation to restrain themselves from causing unnecessary adjournment to ensure timely dispension of justice.
He also noted the need for courts to invoke appropriate legal provisions without any further delay where unnecessary adjournments become apparent and persistent to ensure timely justice delivery.