University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Zambia, U.N. Doc. A/48/18, paras. 236-256 (1993).



Forty-third session


Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


236. The seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh periodic reports of Zambia, submitted in one document (CERD/C/239/Add.2), were considered by the Committee at its 988th meeting, held on 3 August 1993 (see CERD/C/SR.988).

237. The reports were introduced by the representative of the State party, who stated that they had been prepared with due regard for the questions raised during the consideration of the sixth periodic report in 1985. He also drew the Committee's attention to the core document (HRI/CORE/1/Add.22) submitted by his Government, which contained general information on the country.

238. The representative said that article 3 of the Constitution was based on the Charter of the United Nations and covered the main aspects of the Convention. He explained that the Convention was not directly applicable in Zambia and that its provisions had to be incorporated in national legislation to enable them to be invoked before the courts.

239. Being bordered by eight countries (Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zaire and Zimbabwe), Zambia received a large number of refugees from those countries, and from South Africa. Zambia provided many services for those refugees but lacked the resources needed to ensure their education. The country was also experiencing numerous problems connected with migratory flows and the presence in Zambia of a very large number of illegal migrants. All those problems had an adverse effect on the effective implementation of certain provisions of the Convention.

240. Members of the Committee welcomed the resumption of the dialogue between the Committee and Zambia, which had been interrupted for 10 years. They pointed out that Zambia had been governed by a single party during the major part of its existence as a sovereign State, and had experienced an uninterrupted state of emergency from 1964 to 1991, which had inevitably had negative effects on the protection of fundamental human rights. In the absence of any reports for more than 10 years, the Committee had been unable to assess the extent to which that situation had affected the struggle against racial discrimination in the country. They noted with satisfaction that the new Constitution of 24 August 1991 contained numerous provisions for the protection of fundamental human rights, but at the same time observed that the re-establishment of the state of emergency on 4 March 1993 could have adverse repercussions on human rights in Zambia. Members of the Committee also said that the lack of information about the ethnic composition of Zambian society, along with many gaps in the report, which had not been prepared in accordance with the Committee's general guidelines for the preparation of reports, made the Committee's task more difficult.

241. Regarding article 1 of the Convention, members of the Committee requested clarifications concerning complaints of ill-treatment of members of the Asian community and the alleged decrease in the size of the non-African portion of the Zambian population over the last 30 years. They also requested further information on the procedures for incorporating the Convention in Zambian legislation and on the effects that the re-establishment of the state of emergency might have on the implementation of the Convention.

242. With regard to article 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee, having noted that section 70 (1) of the Penal Code met the requirements set out in paragraph (a) of article 4 of the Convention, requested additional information on the implementation of paragraphs (b) and (c) of that article.

243. Concerning article 5 of the Convention, members requested further information about enjoyment of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights set out in article 5 of the Convention, having regard to the country's various ethnic groups.

244. With reference to article 6 of the Convention, members wished the Government to provide some examples of recommendations made by the Commission for Investigations (Ombudsman), which was responsible for dealing with complaints concerning racial discrimination; evidence of the effectiveness of the Presidential Tribunal with regard to administrative matters related to tribalism; and information on the case law of the Industrial Relations Court and on the damages awarded to victims. They pointed out that article 23 of the Constitution was not in line with the provisions of article 6 of the Convention and asked for clarification.

245. With regard to article 7 of the Convention, members wished to know what measures had been taken by the Government of Zambia to improve the training of the police so that they would show greater respect for human rights; whether the Government was planning to have the Convention translated into the main languages spoken in the country; and whether the Government had requested assistance from the Centre for Human Rights in the preparation of reports, the translation of the Convention and the organization of seminars for members of the police, security services and armed forces on the effective protection of human rights.

246. Having noted that Zambia had ratified the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, members asked whether the Government was planning to make the declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention in order to recognize the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications from individuals or groups of individuals within its jurisdiction claiming to be victims of a violation by the State of any of the rights set forth in the Convention.

247. The representative of the State party, replying to the questions asked and comments made by members of the Committee, explained that the shortness of the report was due to the fact that it had been prepared for the purpose of initiating a dialogue rather than to cover the period of 10 years that had elapsed since the previous report had been submitted, in 1983. He assured the Committee that all the comments and questions had been duly noted and that the next report would be prepared in accordance with the Committee's guidelines. He emphasized that the Government of Zambia wished to continue to receive technical assistance from the Centre for Human Rights.

248. The purpose of the state of emergency decreed in March 1993 was by no means to apply discriminatory measures or to arrest political opponents. No political party had been prohibited and freedom of expression had been maintained. With regard to the expulsion of foreigners, the representative explained that the expulsion measures did not concern refugees but smugglers who had entered the country illegally in order to steal the precious stones produced there.

249. The Asian community was well integrated into the population and there were no conflicts between the Zambian population and the population of Asian origin. The lack of conflict accounted for the lack of legislation in that regard.

Concluding observations

250. At its 1007th meeting, held on 17 August 1993, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

251. The Committee welcomed the submission of the reports as evidence of the readiness of the Zambian Government to resume, after a delay of 10 years, a dialogue with the Committee. The Committee noted with regret that the report under consideration did not fully comply with the Committee's revised general guidelines for the preparation of reports and was inadequate. However, the oral dialogue allowed the Committee to clarify certain of its concerns and to re-establish cooperation with the Government of Zambia with a view to the effective implementation of the provisIons of the Convention.

(b) Positive aspects

252. The Committee noted with satisfaction the peaceful transition in Zambia in November 1991 from a one-party State to a multi-party democracy. It also noted that the new Constitution contained extensive provisions for the enjoyment of fundamental rights and their protection under the law. The Committee commended Zambia for the support it had given to the liberation struggle in southern Africa and the dismantling of apartheid. It appreciated the readiness of the Government of Zambia to harbour great numbers of refugees from various African countries.

(c) Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the Convention

253. The Committee noted that for most of its national existence, Zambia had been governed as a one-party State and from 1964 to 1991 had been continuously under a state of emergency with some negative effects on the overall human rights situation in the country. The reinstatement, on 4 March 1993, of a state of emergency may also have a negative impact on the effective application of the Convention. The Committee noted that the lack of adequate financial resources did not allow the Government to translate the Convention into the various languages spoken in the country or to carry out the necessary educational and training programmes in the field of human rights, especially for law enforcement officials.

(d) Principal subjects of concern

254. The Committee questioned the place of the Convention as a whole in the legal framework of Zambia and expressed concern at the lack of incorporation of the principal provisions of the Convention in municipal law, especially those contained in article 4, paragraphs (b) and (c). The Committee was also concerned about the recent declaration of a state of emergency; the treatment accorded to certain categories of refugees; and the reported cases of brutality with discriminatory overtones on the part of the police officers. In addition, the Committee was of the view that Zambian legislation had not effectively provided the remedy and compensation that should be available to an injured person in terms of article 6 of the Convention. Further, the Committee found that article 23.4 (c) of the 1991 Constitution was not in consonance with the requirements of article 1 of the Convention. It also expressed concern at reported discriminatory acts on the part of government officials against members of the Asian community in Zambia.

(e) Suggestions and recommendations

255. The Committee recommended that appropriate consideration should be given by the Government of Zambia to the effective incorporation of the provisions of the Convention in municipal law, particularly those of article 4 (b) and (c); that the text of the Convention should be translated and disseminated, at least among the principal linguistic groups, and that for that purpose the assistance of the Centre for Human Rights could be requested. Additionally, the Committee considered that, in the light of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights, due consideration should be given to acceptance of the Committee's competence under article 14 of the Convention.

256. The Committee further recommended that, as stated in its General Recommendation XIII (42), law enforcement officials should receive intensive training to ensure that in the performance of their duties they respected as well as protected human dignity and maintained and upheld the human rights of all persons without distinction as to race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. For that purpose, as well as for the preparation of the next report, the Committee recommended that the Government of Zambia should request the assistance of the Centre for Human Rights.



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