The Human Rights Commission says the prevailing political animosity between Patriotic Front and United Party for National Development is endangering the maintenance of law and order.

In a statement today, HRC Chairperson Mudford Mwandenga insisted on the need open dialogue between the UPND and PF to resolve outstanding issues triggering a hostile political environment.

“It is the considered view of the Commission that the continued violations of individual rights such as the right to life, protection from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary and over-detention of suspects, violations of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression, are symptoms of deep-rooted political grievances that need to be addressed through political dialogue,” Mwandenga said.

“It is therefore strongly recommended that the PF and UPND leadership must open up dialogue and resolve the outstanding issues that may be contributing to a hostile political environment. It must be appreciated that the continued political hostility is endangering the maintenance of peace, law and order as well as grossly undermining the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms.”

He stated that it was time for President Edgar Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema to reach out to each other for the sake of everyone.

“Time to act, by political party leaders reaching out to each other, is now for the sake of everyone. It would be a grave mistake to hope that the current political animosity and suppression of human rights and freedoms will be resolved through threats and counter threats or public condemnation statements without dialoguing and subordinating personal and partisan interests to national interests,” Mwandenga said.

“The situation as the Human Rights Commission sees it, calls for magnanimous, candid and selfless political decisions, efforts and commitment of high ranking political leaders to face each other around the table for the sake of peace and protection of the rights of individuals. Political dialogue is necessary in a multi-party democracy as a means of mitigating excessive divergent or different views in the national interest.”
Mwandenga said if left unchecked human rights violations could cause instability, with real potential to trigger conflict, economic, political and social disorder.

“The frequency of losing lives through politically related circumstances is extremely saddening and the country must not accept such a situation as normal, and continue as business as usual without taking practical steps to redress such grave human rights violations,” said Mwandenga.