U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on April 13, 2016 released the 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The country-specific Human Rights Reports are documents the U.S. Congress, by law, requires the State Department to prepare annually and make public. The reports cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements. U.S. Embassies compile Human Rights Reports with help from host governments, local NGOs, and other members of civil society and use them to work with governments to improve their human rights records. The United States, of course, has its own human rights issues; the publication of the annual reports is intended to reflect U.S. commitment to the advancement of human rights around the world.
The U.S. government in 2015 observed serious human rights problems in several areas in Zambia. We noted several instances in which officials threatened to close, censor, or initiate legal action against radio, print, and internet media outlets over pieces considered to be critical of the president, government, or ruling party. We also observed several instances in 2015 of violence against journalists by ruling party supporters.
As stated in our 2016 press releases, we remain worried about political violence, reported as a serious human rights issue in this 2015 report. The U.S. government also continues to be concerned over reports that police in 2015 used the Public Order Act to block opposition or other gatherings, citing a nonexistent requirement for a permit to assemble, rather than legally required prior notification.
The report also documented other significant human rights problems during the year in further detail. These included:
- Abuses by police, including reports of unlawful killings, torture, and beatings;
- Gender-based violence (GBV);
- Life-threatening prison conditions;
- Arbitrary arrest;
- Prolonged pretrial detention;
- Arbitrary interference with privacy;
- Displacement of landowners;
- Government corruption;
- Child abuse;
- Trafficking in persons;
- Discrimination against persons with disabilities and minority communities; and
- Child labor
The United States is pleased to note the Zambian government’s increased support to the Human Rights Commission and the Prison Service Commission. The government and people of Zambia also demonstrated a continued commitment to the humane resolution to the status of refugees in Zambia, whether through repatriation or local integration.
The United States is committed to working together with the government and people of Zambia to address human rights concerns in Zambia and globally. That includes U.S. support for Zambian initiatives to promote the rule of law, press freedom, police professionalism, and other human rights issues. As we have stated, the U.S. government takes no sides in political debates, other than that of the Zambian people.
Some examples of recent U.S.-Zambia programs to address human rights concerns are:
- The United States is proud to support Zambians expressing their franchise in the 2015 presidential by-election, nearly $4 million in total assistance to civil society monitoring groups and to the Electoral Commission of Zambia;
- Ongoing collaboration with the Human Rights Commission, including planned work that aims to strengthen Zambia’s UN Universal Periodic Review processes and to promote dialogue and better implementation of the Public Order Act.
The United States government appreciates its ongoing dialogue with the Zambian government about internationally recognized human rights that both our nations have pledged to uphold. These are important commitments we make with all our citizens. We firmly believe both the United States and Zambia are more secure in a world where governments protect their peoples’ rights and freedoms.
The full report is available at https://zm.usembassy.gov/our-relationship/official-reports/.