Malawi and Zambia are two neighboring African countries that have a lot in common with one another, including their history, culture, and geography. Yet, during the past few years, there has been a growing worry over the track record of human rights violations committed by the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu.
As a result of this, there have been calls for President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi to take action and publicly admonish his colleague. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the human rights situation in Zambia, the response from the international community, and the part that Malawi may play in addressing these concerns.
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The Precarious State of Human Rights in Zambia
In recent years, Zambia has been dealing with a number of issues pertaining to human rights. These concerns include crackdowns on opposition figures as well as limits on freedom of expression and assembly. Moreover, there have been reports of police brutality. The situation surrounding opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is one of the most illustrative examples of this phenomenon.
After being accused of obstructing the path of the presidential convoy in 2017, Hichilema was taken into custody and charged with treason. Later on, he was exonerated, but the case brought attention to the government’s attack on opposition individuals in Zambia.
Another area that warrants attention is the news media. In 2016, the administration made a public threat to close down independent media sites that published critical coverage of the government. At times of upheaval, the government has also restricted access to social media sites, which has a chilling effect on people’s ability to express themselves freely.
In addition to these worries, there have also been reports of excessive force being used by the police in Zambia. The police have been accused of employing excessive force to disperse peaceful protests, which has led to injuries and even deaths as a result of the police’s actions.
Moreover, the administration has been accused of utilizing the police to go after opposition figures and the sympathizers of the opposition.
The Reaction from Around the World
The current state of human rights in Zambia has garnered the attention of the world community, which is paying close attention to the issue. In 2019, Michelle Bachelet, who serves as the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the United Nations, voiced her worry about the arrest and detention of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema. She issued a call to action to the government of Zambia, urging them to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of all of the country’s residents.
Concern about the state of human rights in Zambia has also been voiced by representatives of the European Union. In 2018, the European Union issued a call to action to the government of Zambia, urging them to uphold fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and assembly, as well as guarantee unrestricted access to the press. Also, the EU demanded the conduct of an impartial investigation into the allegations of police abuse
The Part That Malawi Plays
Concerns over violations of human rights in Zambia are something that Malawi should help to address. Due to the fact that it is both a neighboring nation and a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Malawi is obligated to work towards the preservation of peace and order in the surrounding area. It is possible for Malawi, given its position within the SADC, to exert pressure on Zambia to resolve the concerns regarding human rights.
It is also possible for President Chakwera to bring up these issues by utilizing the personal relationship he has with President Lungu. Chakwera and Lungu have been familiar with one another for a considerable amount of time and get along swimmingly. By using this connection, Chakwera will be able to bring Lungu’s attention directly to the issues at hand and encourage him to take action.
In addition to this, Malawi is in a position within the African Union (AU) to support human rights in Zambia, which it can use to its advantage. Malawi is a member of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), and as such, it has the ability to use this forum to voice its concerns and ask for action.
The state of affairs in Zambia with regard to human rights is very troubling. The world community has been keeping a close eye on the current situation and has issued a call for intervention on multiple occasions. The African nation of Malawi can contribute in some way to the solution of these problems.
Malawi has the ability to exert pressure on Zambia to solve the human rights concerns by virtue of its position as a neighboring country as well as a member of both the SADC and the AU. It is also possible for President Chakwera to utilize his personal relationship with President Lungu in order to bring these concerns to the attention of President Lungu and urge him to take action. It is about time for Malawi.
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