Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1985

Zambia is a one-party state in which individual rights, basic
freedoms, and due process are generally well observed while
some political rights are restricted. Much of the
decisionmaking power is concentrated in the hands of the
President, Kenneth Kaunda, who, unopposed, was reelected in
1983 to his fifth consecutive five-year term. He is advised
by a central committee of party leaders and governs through a
Cabinet and a Parliament elected through controlled
elections. The President possesses sweeping powers — conferred
on him by emergency legislation which dates from 1964— to
suspend observance of legal rights in the "interest of state
security." The Constitution also allows the National Assembly
to suspend basic constitutional guarantees. Candidates for
political office at any level must be members of the United
National Independence Party (UNIP) .
Zambia's economy continues to be severely depressed due to
such factors as low prices for the country's mineral exports,
the high cost of basic imports, inadequate agricultural
production, and statist policies. Also, the rapid rate of
population growth is outstripping increases in productivity.
There has been a continuing decline in the standard of living,
but the Government is taking steps to improve the management
of the economy and to encourage the private sector, including
removing agricultural production disincentives, while
attempting to maintain delivery of a wide range of social
services to the citizenry. Urban crime and smuggling are
widespread and growing, severely taxing the limited
capabilities of Zambia's police and military forces.
In January 1983, Zambia's high court convicted seven persons
of conspiring to overthrow the Government and handed down
mandatory death sentences. The convictions were appealed to
the Supreme Court, which took testimony in open session during
August and September 1984. On April 2, 1985, the Supreme
Court reversed the convictions of two men sentenced to death
and dismissed the appeals of the other five. The five men
facing death sentences have the right to appeal to President
Kaunda for clemency. During 1985, over 40 persons were
detained under orders signed by the President.
There was no major change in the status of human rights in
Zambia in 1985. Zambian institutions such as the press, trade
unions, and churches have come under some pressure from
central authorities to be more responsive to the wishes of the
Government but have maintained to the best of their ability
their objectivity, status, and influence. There is strong
competition for parliamentary seats within the single-party
structure. The National Assembly provides a platform for the
spirited consideration of issues. The judiciary is
independent and takes full account of the rights of the
accused. The trade union movement continues to be one of the
best organized and most democratic in Africa, and the churches
remain a strong independent force which can unite to defend
common interests. Zambia continues to serve as a place of
first asylum for refugees in the region.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
a. Political Killing
During 1985, there were no killings for which there was
evidence of political motivation or government instigation.
b. Disappearance
No case of politically motivated disappearance is known to
have occurred during 1985.
c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
The Constitution prohibits torture, but there are allegations
that police and military personnel have used cruel treatment
when arresting persons and have resorted to torture when
interrogating detainees. Charges of torture and mistreatment
are reported freely in the press when victims register their
complaints in court. The courts frequently order
investigations to ascertain if confessions or statements were
made after torture or physical or mental mistreatment and have
consistently rejected statements obtained under duress from
arrested persons. Abuses of prisoners are reported to include
beatings, pain inflicted on various parts of the body, and
long periods of solitary confinement. Prisoners have
successfully sued the state for damages as a result of prison
abuses. The Director of Public Prosecutions has announced
that he would meet with the Inspector General of police
concerning complaints from prisoners of beatings while in
police custody.
Zambian prisons are overcrowded, understaffed, and
unsanitary. In the past 20 years, the prison population has
grown from 5,000 to 11,000 with no corresponding growth in
facilities. Medical facilities are meager, but prisoners with
serious medical problems are treated in public hospitals.
Prisoners are generally segregated by sex, seriousness of the
offense, and age group. There is no institutional
differentiation in the treatment of different categories of
prisoners charged or convicted under civil or criminal
statutes, but Presidential detainees receive better care than
that accorded common criminals.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Under the state of emergency, which has been in effect since
independence in 1964, the President has broad discretion to
detain or restrict the movements of individuals. Detention
procedures have been revised to conform with the provisions of
the Constitution and have increased the President's authority.
The President can order a detainee to be incarcerated
indefinitely and is not legally bound to accept a court's
acquittal if he still believes that the detainee is guilty.
In practice, however, detainees are almost always released if
the court finds in their favor. By law, presidential
detainees are entitled to: formal notification within 14 days
of the reasons for their detention; publication of their
detention in the government gazette; access to counsel;
frequent visitation by family and colleagues; immediate
representation to the detaining authority; and the right to
seek judicial review of the detention order by an independent
and impartial tribunal after 1 year. Presidential detainees
have their cases heard by the high court and have the right to
appeal to the Supreme Court. Habeas corpus is, in principle,
available to persons detained under presidential order, but
the Government is not obliged to accept the recommendation of
the review tribunal. It is estimated that approximately 45
presidential detainees are currently held in Zambia.
During 1985, the presidential detention power was used to
arrest about 40 persons, many of whom were allegedly involved
in illegal drug or currency transactions. Ten of those
detainees were released after being detained for periods
ranging from a few days to 4 months. Most of the other
detainees are seeking their release through court actions, but
this can be a slow process which can take anywhere from a few
months to several years. Detainees can sue the state for
unlawful detention and false imprisonment, and such cases were
brought to court during 1985.
Under the state of emergency, law officers and defense
personnel have extraordinary powers. Police officers of
assistant inspector rank and above may arrest without a
warrant and detain a person for up to 28 days if the officer
has reason to believe grounds exist to justify a presidential
detention order. However, within 14 days police must provide
the detainee with the reasons for his detention or his
incarceration is void. This requirement is followed
rigorously. Security officers have broad powers to search
suspects and their homes and sometimes act without warrants
when looking for smugglers or illegal aliens.
There is no slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor in
Zambia. These are prohibited by the Constitution.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Zambian judicial system consists of a Supreme Court with
appellate powers and a series of lower courts — of which the
high court is the most important. Presidential detainees are
not automatically guaranteed public trials, but the majority
have been tried in public. The safeguards of English common
law are provided in court cases not involving presidential
detainees. Independent observation confirms the independence
of the Zambian judiciary from executive branch influence. The
President's power to appoint and transfer judges has sometimes
been cited as proof that judicial independence can be
compromised. However, there is no evidence that such power
has swayed court decisions.
There are probably five or fewer detainees who could make a
claim to political prisoner status, and even in these cases it
is possible that the persons were involved either in acts of
violence or in plotting actions involving violence. Three of
these detainees are charged with involvement in the alleged
1981 plot to rescue prisoners accused of treason, but they
have not yet been brought to trial.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
The Zambian Government does not require membership in
political organizations and usually does not monitor
correspondence or telephones or otherwise interfere in family
life. The sanctity of the home is generally respected, except
in isolated incidents relating to the national emergency or to
roundups of illegal aliens. In such cases, security forces
often do not have search warrants.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Rights, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
There is considerable freedom of press and speech in Zambia,
and the press regularly reports criticism of government
activities expressed by sources ranging from elected officials
to average citizens. The two national dailies are owned by
the Government and the party respectively, but substantial
commentary critical of party and government performance is
permitted. The Times of Zambia, the party paper, is generally
independent of outside direction. The papers discuss economic
policy, corruption, and poor administration. However,
negative comments concerning the Head of State, the concept of
the one-party state, or the national philosophy, "Humanism",
are prohibited. Journalists and commentators know the limits
of criticism and avoid reporting which could lead to charges
of libel and slander. An independent biweekly paper, which is
sometimes critical of official policies, is published by an
association of churches, and two other independent papers
focus on mining and financial subjects. Television and radio
are owned and operated by the Government; frequent panel
discussion programs provide for a wide range of views on
Zambian issues.
While the possibility of censorship of foreign publications
and news items exists, it is seldom invoked. Academic freedom
is highly respected in Zambian society, and Zambian educators
are outspoken in their commitment to an educational system
free of government influence. There is little or no
governmental influence in matters relating to curriculum,
student selection, or faculty assignment.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Police permits are required for meetings, rallies, or
marches. These permits are issued routinely, unless the
Government believes the proceedings are likely to be directed
against local authorities. While there is a ban on all
political activity outside the one-party structure, Zambia has
a profusion of trade associations and professional groups
which can serve as unofficial pressure groups on various
economic, political, and social subjects.
Zambia has a history of strong labor union organizations,
dating from the establishment of large copper mines during the
1930's. Zambia's 18 national labor unions, which are
organized by industry or profession, are all members of the
Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Member unions defend
worker interests, especially regarding wages and conditions of
work, and have the right to bargain collectively. Under
existing legislation, strikes are permitted only for specific
reasons and only after all other recourse has been exhausted.
Virtually all strikes are illegal, since they almost always
commence before the mandatory process of mediation has run its
course. However, the Government has normally relied on
persuasion and continued mediation to end strikes once they
have begun. A series of wildcat strikes during 1985,
involving workers in such important sectors as finance and
mining, resulted in a government decree declaring workers in
most sectors of the economy "essential" and therefore liable
to prosecution for illegal strike action. However, the
Government has yet to invoke this decree. The ZCTU is not
controlled by the party or Government, and union leaders
frequently criticize government policy on such subjects as
wages, economic policy, conditions of service, and labor
representation in party and government organs. The ZCTU is
democratic and regularly conducts open elections to select its
leadership. It is active in the International Labor
Organization and is a member of the Organization of African
Trade Union Unity.
c. Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion is constitutionally guaranteed and has
been supported by President Kaunda. Zambia has no state
religion, and adherence to a particular faith does not confer
either advantage or disadvantage. Christian missionaries from
a wide variety of faiths operate freely in the country. While
Jehovah's Witnesses are prohibited from proselytizing, the
sect functions openly and its freedom not to participate in
various secular activities such as voting, singing the
national anthem, and saluting the flag has been upheld in the
courts and supported by senior party leaders. Lay
associations and religious youth groups operate independently
of party control or influence.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The President may, under the emergency legislation, restrict
the movement of individuals within Zannbia, although this
authority is seldom if ever used. The Government also
reserves the right to refuse to issue or to withdraw passports
to prevent foreign travel by individuals whose activities are
considered inimical to Zambian interests. Such restrictions
are occasionally applied. Strict currency regulations also
serve to inhibit foreign travel or emigration.
Accjuisition, loss, or revocation of citizenship is governed by
constitutional provisions and laws administered by the
citizenship board. However, the President also has power to
grant or revoke citizenship on an extraordinary basis.
Zambia has long played host to a considerable refugee and
asylum-seeking population that originates in several
strife-torn southern African countries. The United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there
are about 97,000 refugees in Zambia. The largest group of
refugees is from Angola, with significant numbers from Zaire,
Namibia, and South Africa. Smaller numbers are from Malawi,
Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Many of the Angolans and Zaireans
have spontaneously resettled in western and northwestern
provinces since the ethnic compositions on both sides of the
border are similar. The Zambian Government operates two large
refugee resettlement centers, and the Southwest African
People's Organization operates one camp. Urban refugees
number approximately 700.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Since 1973, the United National Independence Party, with an
estimated membership of less than 10 percent of the adult
population, has been Zambia's sole legal political party.
Power is concentrated in the hands of the President as leader
of the party and Chief of State. He plays a dominant role in
determining the membership of Zambia's top executive
institutions, the party central committee and cabinet,
although traditionally both bodies contain a general balance
of regional and tribal representation.
Candidates for political office at any level must be members
of the party and are subject to close examination for
suitability by senior party authorities. In practice, the
Zambia political system is open to individuals of somewhat
divergent opinions provided they are willing to work within
the one-party structure and not challenge the President's
preeminent position. In the latest parliamentary elections in
1983, 760 candidates contested 125 seats; 40 incumbents were
defeated, including 7 ministers of state.
The National Assembly is reflective of constituent interests
and sometimes thwarts or modifies executive branch policies
and programs. It can also be very critical of such policies,
as was demonstrated a number of times in 1985 when members of
Parliament railed against government expenditures, poor
services, and land allocations. Presidential and general
elections are by universal suffrage but the numbering of
ballots, which could be cross-checked against voter
registration numbers, could undermine the secrecy of the
ballot. In the 1983 presidential election, voters had the
option of voting for or against the single candidate or
abstaining. A total of 63.4 percent of registered voters went
to the polls, of whom 93 percent voted in favor of the
President .
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigations of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
While there is no public record of the Zambian Government
having been subject to such investigations during 1985, the
Government neither encourages nor hinders inquiries or visits
by human rights organizations. In its 1985 Report, Amnesty
International was concerned about the detention without trial
of alleged opponents of the Government. Freedom House rates
Zambia "partly free."
Zambia continues to suffer from a prolonged economic
recession, marked by inflation, serious unemployment, and
scarce financial resources. The application of various
economic policies since independence along socialist or
centrally managed lines has not lived up to expectations.
Real per capita income has fallen below the level at
independence, and due to depressed prices for Zambia's copper
exports, even total real national income remains below the
level reached in 1977. Per capita gross national product fell
from $644 in 1982 to $580 in 1983. Zambia's 6.8 million
population is now growing at the rate of 3.2 percent (2.8
percent in 1970). A 3-year drought during the period 1982-84
reduced food production and forced further reliance on food
imports. However, improved rainfall during early 1985 should
provide Zambia with a better maize harvest.
In the past three years, the Government has taken a number of
measures designed to deal with the country's economic plight.
It has restricted public spending, reduced or eliminated
government subsidies on essential commodities, raised prices
paid for agricultural produce, and devalued the currency by
introducing an auction system for the purchase of foreign
exchange. It is also taking steps to promote private
initiative. The economy, however, faces a substantial debt
burden and a return to economic growth is not expected for
several years.
The average income of rural inhabitants is estimated to be
substantially less than one-third the size of the average
earnings of urban dwellers. This imbalance has generated
heavy rural-to-urban migration (over 40 percent of the
population is urban), exacerbating already high unemployment
and crime rates in urban areas. Nationwide, unemployment is
well over a third of the potential work force. The top 20
percent of households claims over 56 percent of the total
income, while the bottom 40 percent gets 11 percent (1976).
In addition, the gap between rural and urban areas in terms of
education, housing, nutrition, and the availability of public
services is considerable. However, by 1980 about the same
percentage of rural dwellers (66.4 percent) had access to safe
water as urban dwellers (67 percent). Life expectancy at
birth is 51.7 years. The infant mortality rate is 107 per
1,000 live births (1985). The fertility rate is 6.1 live
births per woman, one of the highest in the world.
The literacy rate is estimated at 54 percent. According to
1980 statistics on school enrollment as a ratio of population
in age groups, almost all Zambia's primary-age children are
enrolled in primary school. Less than 20 percent of primary
school graduates are admitted to secondary school due to
limitations of facilities and resources. Female students can
be admitted to secondary school with lower passing marks than
male students as part of Zambia's "affirmative action" program.
Zambian law regulates minimum health and safety standards and
worker rights in any industrial undertaking. Boards appointed
by the Government and including worker and employer
representatives fix minimum wages, overtime pay, and
conditions of employment. Women are excluded from night work
and a variety of hazardous occupations. Although age
restrictions apply to the industrial sector, with few cases of
employees under age 16, in the commercial and agricultural
sectors persons under age 14 are often employed.

Under statutory law, women generally enjoy full ec[uality with
men, and women participate increasingly in Zambia's social,
economic, and political life. They hold some senior positions
in the party, the Government, and the judiciary, and are
gaining increasing representation in the professions and
higher education. In 1983, the number of women on the party's
25-member central committee was increased from 2 to 4 .
Nevertheless, the majority of Zambian women still occupy
traditional roles. Customary law and practice still compete
on a de facto basis in most rural areas with Zambia's
Constitution and codified laws. Some customary statutes place
women in subordinate or unequal status with respect to
property inheritances and marriage. The Law Development
Commission is seeking ways to remove such anomalies. In
Zambia's traditional society, women's primary role is bearing
and raising children.