The newly amended Constitution of Zambia has not presented an opportunity for various stakeholders to raise awareness on its provisions, says the Non-Governmental Gender Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC).

And NGOCC says the most significant human rights problems are abuses by police, according to the 2015 State Human Rights Report for Zambia.

Speaking during the launch of the simplified booklet on Civil and Political Rights in Lusaka, Monday, NGOCC acting executive director Chilufya said unlawful killings, torture and beatings were some of the abuses by police.

“The newly-enacted amendment Constitution of Zambia has not yet been adequately popularised to present an opportunity for various stakeholders, NGOCC included, to raise awareness on its provisions. Specifically, most Zambians, especially women, remain oblivious about the civil and political rights provided for in the amended Constitution. For instance, a recent baseline survey conducted in Lusaka, Masaiti, Mazabuka and Gwembe, revealed that the awareness levels among Zambians in these districts on civil and political rights are low. And this makes lots of women fail to claim their rights,” Siwale said.

“Further, according to 2015 State of Human Rights report for Zambia, the most significant human rights problems during the year were abuses by police, including reports of unlawful killings, torture and beatings. Political violence and also restrictions on freedom of the press, assembly, association and speech as well as gender-based violence.”

She, however, added that the launch of the booklet will enhance citizens’ awareness and knowledge of civil and political rights in the Republican Constitution.

“It is for this background that NGOCC has been advocating for the enactment of the people-driven Constitution with an expanded Bill of Rights. We believe this booklet will raise awareness and knowledge of civil and political rights in the Constitution for citizenry. It is our hope that citizens will fully utilise this booklet to ensure that the common woman and man out there are able to claim their rights,” said Siwale.

The booklet provides individuals with information on various civil and political rights, as well as how their full potential as citizens can be fulfilled.