The Bishops of Zambia have called for respect and protection of human rights in their country which they say is “deteriorating at an alarming rate.”
In a report by Fides News Agency, the pastoral letter calls for an end to the “arbitrary use of power by government officials. The letter also highlighted the “intimidation and threats of arrest against leaders and individuals who speak against Government; deportations, and even threats to Catholic priests for sermons seen as critical of Government.”
The Pastoral Letter, entitled “To act justly and to walk humbly with your God”, provides an overview of the situation of the Country in which, while recognizing the democratic change that began in 1991 with the adoption of the multiparty system, several signs of authoritarian involution and “political intolerance, both between parties and within them” are highlighted.
This climate, the Bishops noted, also influences the action of the police, who while expressing their gratitude for the efforts against crime, but also stated that “over the years, each ruling party seems to have unlimited freedom to carry out any public activity, on any day and at any time, while the opposition political parties and some civil society organizations are literally discriminated against every time they try to carry out public activities ” on behalf of the police.
The Bishops also recall the situation in Barotseland in Western Province. “We are aware of a climate of intimidation and serious violations of human rights in Western Province: kidnappings of citizens, arbitrary arrests of people to be subjected to long periods of interrogation, even torture. These acts are totally unacceptable. They must cease immediately. This Country is not in a state of emergency.”