CHIRUNDU UPND member of parliament Douglas Siakalima says the Human Rights Commission should move from just condemning human rights violations to preventive action against human rights abuses.
During debate on the budget allocation to the Human Rights Commission, Siakalima wondered why the Commission was still relevant when it was doing what other civil society organisations were already doing, which was merely “condemning.”
“While I support the vote on the Human rights Commission, I have very serious reservations on how this Commission actually works. In Zambia today, there are so many abuses of human rights, we cannot run away from this. And the only thing that I always get from the Human Rights Commission is to say that, ‘we condemn this, we condemn that, it ends there. Even NGOs condemn; NGOCC condemns; SACCORD condemns; TIZ condemns. Now, the Human Rights Commission gets subvention from government, from the State, so how can they only end up saying, ‘we condemn this act?’ They must also be becoming preventive because sometimes you can see ahead of you to say that, ‘this will lead to human rights abuses’,” Siakalima said.
“So what is the difference between the Human Rights Commission and any other NGO or any other human being in Zambia?”
He said the Human Rights Commission should crack a whip on the Electoral Commission of Zambia as failure by some people to register to vote might cause confusion in the country.
“For example, if, right now, when the people feel that they may not register themselves to vote, the Human Rights Commission must be able to crack a whip on the ECZ to say that, ‘this, in future, can bring problems in a country and when there are those problems, what happens?’ Examples are plenty in Africa. Elections have caused chaos in Africa, elections have caused wars in Africa, so we must be able, the Human Rights must be able to get a whip and crack on the ECZ. This thing, if people feel that they are not going to register themselves, it can bring chaos! So, they must also be a Commission of prevention that, ‘ahead of us, if this thing doesn’t work properly, it can cause chaos…’ so that in future, you don’t just stand up and say that, ‘we condemn this’,” said Siakalima.
And Kasempa UPND member of parliament Brenda Tambatamba urged the Commission to advocate for the laws that would consolidate the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country.
“We need to hear the voice of the Human Rights Commission speaking up strongly; we need to hear the voice of the HRC taking measures of advocacy that is pointed towards the Judiciary, towards law-making that brings more strength or consolidates what we have in policy and legal framework so that we begin to see the reduction, we begin to see point where we start saying, ‘we will at one point get to eliminate GBV in our society.’ There is no reason where we should end at a point to say, ‘reduce it,’ it can be eliminated. It is practiced by human beings, it’s practiced by our family members and so we know that it is possible, madam chairperson, that this can be a thing of the past. So, my small voice to this on behalf of the women of Zambia, the girl children, the boy children and any other victim of GBV is that we need to see more strength, more advocacy, more operationalisation of measures that can be directed to actors in various sectors of our communities, including the State, and everywhere so that we see this scourge go away from us,” said Tambatamba.