International Lawyer Dr Munyonzwe Hamalengwa has warned that some political leaders in Zambia will be dragged to the International Criminal Court after the August Elections.
Dr. Hamalengwa who has presided over some international law cases in South Africa among other countries and practised law in Canada for 25 years has told Zambian Eye that there is enough evidence on political violence that will attract the International Criminal Court to move in and prosecute some politicians.
“The perpetrators of the violence are known by name by many authorities including the police, intelligence, army, the President, the media, the opposition and many individuals. There is photographic evidence as well,” said Dr Hamalengwa who is now in the country teaching at Zambian Open University.
Thugs allegedly sponsored by Local Government Minister Stephen Kapyongo on Monday attempted to bring down the helicopter carrying opposition presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND in Shiwang’andu in Northern Zambia.
The thugs threw stones, other objects and burnt the bushes near the grounds the Helicopter was to land from.
The thugs who have been bused from the capital are trailing Hichilema who has been attracting huge crowds at his campaigns in a region which has strong support base for the ruling party – Patriotic Front.
In the capital and Copperbelt province, there have been reports bloody attacks on the opposition by cadres suspected to be from the ruling party. Campaign materials displayed around the city are being destroyed. Repeated calls for peace from President Lungu have been ignored.
Below is the full statement
With all the doubts and misgivings that I have about justice emanating out of the International Criminal Court,(ICC) because that court seems to only target Africans and in reverse, only African dictators invoke that court against the opposition, it looks likely that that court may have a role to play in Post-election Zambia because of the violence that may accompany this important election. The perpetrators of the violence are known by name by many authorities including the police, intelligence, army, the President, the media, the opposition and many individuals. There is photographic evidence as well.
Thus when the case or if the case gets to the ICC, there will be no problem of evidence.
The Kenya case at the ICC arising out of post-election violence collapsed among other reasons because the Court failed to access evidence that was in the hands of the government. The government refused to release the requested evidence and further intimidated the witnesses and the case was derailed. That will not be the case in the case of Zambia and to be named defendants. The evidence is in so many hands and the government even if in power post election cannot claim that they did not know about the violence or the perpetrators. The government has been told repeatedly about this violence, that the violence is in the hands of the government and that only the government can control this violence as it is in their hands. The defence by government leaders and party leaders that they personally did not know about the violence or did not personally engage in political violence has been abolished in international criminal law. Wilful or reckless ignorance by the President and his ministers or security apparatus is no defence now.
The police and the army can also not plead that they were following official orders in not preventing the violence or in not arresting the perpetrators. The defence of following orders has been abolished in international criminal law.
The governing party has the primary responsibility of providing peaceful elections and preventing violence from their cadres as well as those of the opposition. The government controls the army, the police, intelligence and all other official security apparatus. Some governments have fifth column security apparatus that secretly kill people. The government controls that too.
The days of non-accountability of sovereign states in international criminal law are over. The Ivorian and Kenyan election violence cases are precedents. The perpetrators in Zambia who are known will not get away with murder. Zambia also has precedents where two of its presidents were stripped of immunity and prosecuted. Thus Zambia doesn’t even have to invoke international criminal law. It has its own precedents. No Zambian no matter how high or mighty they may be before elections, will not get away with murder after the election. Either they will face the force of the law domestically or they will face international criminal law at the ICC. Kenyatta and Rutto looked deflated and devoid of power when they appeared in the courtroom of the ICC. The world has changed.
Lastly, there are many serious crimes in modern law. One of the most serious crimes in the Canadian and American legal systems is an attempt to bring down an aircraft or bringing down an aircraft causing death or injury to people entombed therein. This crime now is elevated to a terrorism offence. Terrorism is an elevated criminal offence and the consequences on conviction are dire. The attempt to bring down an aircraft in Zambia recently, an aircraft carrying the opposition members exercising their constitutional right to campaign for power in the upcoming election, is a serious offence. That the President has so far not commented on this terroristic act despite the circumstantial evidence of his knowledge through media reports, is extremely worrying. The culprits must be brought to book. The police know them. The government leaders have been told who the perpetrators are. The opposition knows them. The media knows them. Individuals know them. There probably is photographic evidence.
If these criminals are not charged and prosecuted, they must be handed over to the international criminal court for prosecution. In Canada and the US, these criminals would be called terrorists and they would be behind bars now. The rule of law will eventually be achieved in Zambia during our lifetime.