One of the major financing block to the Zambian government has demanded for the immediate release of the incarcerated UPND President Hakainde Hichilema and engage him in constructive dialogue that lead to reforms at ECZ, ZNBC, Public Order Act, and respect for rule of law and order in the country.
European Parliament resolution on Zambia, particularly the case of Hakainde Hichilema (2017/2681(RSP)) B8‑0365/2017
The European Parliament,
-having regard to previous resolutions on Zambia,
-having regard to the statement of 16 April 2017 by the EEAS spokesperson on political tensions in Zambia,
-having regard to the European Union Election Observation Mission Final Report on the General Elections in Zambia, presented 11 August 2016
-having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights,
-having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
-having regard to the Zambian Constitution,
-having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,
-having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
-having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,
A.Whereas Hakainde Hichilema is the leader of the main opposition party in Zambia, United Party for National Development (UPND); Whereas after the presidential election in August 2016 Hichilema was narrowly defeat by President Lungo the UPND contested the legitimacy of the election results and the independence of the judiciary but the complaint was dismissed without being heard in court;
B.Whereas Hakainde Hichilema is accused of having disobeyed police orders on 8 April 2017 having allegedly having failed to move his convoy in order to give way for the presidential motorcade travelling the same road; whereas Hichilema rejects these accusations;
C.Whereas on 11 April 2017, armed police raided Hakainde Hichilema´s home and arrested him and five of his employees and charged them with treason;
D.Whereas the penalty for treason, which is a non-bailable offence in Zambia, ranges from a minimum of 15 years in jail to the death penalty; whereas NGO´s have condemned the conflation of the charge which ought to be no more than a traffic felony;
E.Whereas human rights groups have reported claims from the detainees of excessive violence and torture in conjunction with the arrest;
F.Whereas an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) was present in Zambia between 29 June and 12 September 2016, following invitations from the Government of the Republic of Zambia and the Electoral Commission of Zambia deploying 124 observers across the country making it the largest international observation mission for the elections;
G.Whereas the the European Union EOM delivered its final report on 11 August 2016 stating that the 2016 general elections were highly competitive and prepared in a largely professional manner, but both major political parties made statements that inflamed tensions during the campaign leading to several serious incidents of violence;
H.Whereas recently political tensions have increased in Zambia in connection to the arrest of Hichilema resulting in protests, violent clashes and increasing political tension in the country, particularly in Choma and Solwezi, where he gathers most political supporters;
I.whereas both the EU and the United States have condemned the incarceration of the opposition leader and called for a peaceful dialogue between the government and the UPND to ease the tensions that have grown between the two parties;
J.whereas on 27 March 2017, the Zambian government began public consultations on the country’s International Criminal Court membership; whereas Hichilema publicly declared he would actively stop any withdrawal procedure;
1.Is concerned at the continuing incarceration of Hakainde Hichilema and calls for him to be released. Notes with concern reports of political motivation in relation to the charges and therefore urges the Zambian judiciary to demonstrate independence from political interference; Underlines that all detainees should be afforded access to legal redress, healthcare and visiting rights.
2.Reminds the Zambian government of their obligations to guarantee fundamental rights and the rule of law, including access to justice and the right to a fair trial, as provided for in the African Charter, and other international and regional human rights instruments;
3.Recalls that the respect for freedom of association and assembly are fundamental to any democratic society and guaranteed by the Zambian Constitution, and that excessive force in response to peaceful protests should be avoided in all circumstances;
4.Recalls that following the 2016 general election, the EU election observation mission final report noted that a detailed review of the electoral legal framework and redrafting of unclear, ambiguous and conflicting provisions should be carried out as well as the removal of overly restrictive limitations of freedom of assembly in the Public Order Act and that the transformation of ZNBC into a public service broadcaster with full editorial independence from government, and enhanced oversight of the Electoral Commission of Zambia of the public media.
5.Calls on the EU to make use of all available political means, including at the highest level, to encourage and assist Zambia’s commitment to make such reforms and to uphold the highest standards of human rights, the rule of law and democracy;
6.Insists on the urgent necessity of a peaceful and constructive dialogue between the Patriotic Front and the UPND in order to restore political stability and trust; welcomes, in this regard, the Human Rights Commission’s call for a dialogue to tackle political violence and prevent continued violations of human rights and freedoms;
7.Expresses concern that the government’s openness to dialogue and national reconciliation is conditioned by the acceptance by all opposition parties of the outcome of the 2016 elections; urges the Zambian President to engage in talks with its opponents without delay;
8.Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Commission Vice-President / EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Co‑Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the African Union Commission and the Pan-African Parliament, the Zambian Government and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.