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Stakeholders in Chinsali call for amendment of Bill of Rights

Stakeholders attending a two-day workshop organised by the Human Rights Commission in Chinsali in Muchinga Province have called for the amendment of the current Bill of Rights.

The workshop that was successfully held at Katachi Lodge, attracted stakeholders from different government departments and faith-based organisations that are in support to have the Zambian Bill of Rights amended.

One of the participants Eliot Mabuda says there is a need to amend the Bill of Rights as it is outdated and contradicts the current Constitution of Zambia.

Mr Mabuda noted that some articles in the current Bill of Rights do not support gender equality and it is difficult to understand.

“There is a need to simplify the Bill of Rights for citizens to understand it clearly without any interpretation,” he added.

He said the Bill of Rights in its current state does not speak to what is on the ground and the needs of citizens, especially that the world has evolved.

Another participant Sofia Zyambo, who is also in support of the call to amend the Bill of Rights, said the Bill should equally focus on women and children.

Ms Zyambo said women ought to be respected and enjoy the same rights as men in society, but the Bill of Rights that is in place is limited in scope and depth.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission has called for the enactment of a law that criminalises torture in s bid to curb the crimes and violations of human rights that are committed during the process of torture.

Speaking in an interview with the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS), Human Rights Commission Spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya said the law on torture only favours certain people, especially prominent figures which he said should not be the case.

He explained that although the Constitution under Article 15 prohibits torture, there is no enabling law that defines torture and prescribes penalties for perpetrators once a crime is committed during the act of torture.

“There are times when suspects have been wrongly handled by law enforcers and all they get is a mere charge of assault which has very low penalties compared to the seriousness of torture,” Mr Muleya said.

And Mr Muleya has urged for the need to amend and expand the Bill of Rights so that it is in line with the United Nations Human Paris Principles.

The Human Rights Commission Spokesperson stated that the amendment of the Bill of Rights is in the best interest of the country as it will protect citizens.

He pointed out that the inclusion of social, economic and cultural rights is critical to the wellbeing of citizens.

In 2016, the attempt for Zambia to have the Bill of Rights amended and expanded through a national referendum failed as it could not meet the 50 percent threshold of eligible voters as required by Article 79 of the Constitution.