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COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION EXAMINES THE REPORT OF ZAMBIA

2 May 2019

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning considered the combined seventeenth to nineteenth periodic report of Zambia on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Margret Mary Lungo Kaemba, Minister Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, apologized for the absence of the delegation, which, she assured, did not in any way mean that Zambia was not committed to the Convention. The fight against racism must be relentless if it was to succeed. The Government had taken note of the list of themes in relation to the report, which had been submitted to relevant stakeholders at the national level. A written update, which would provide responses under these themes, would be submitted to the Committee as soon as the relevant information was validated at the national level. Zambia remained committed to the fight against race-based hostility and violence; forms of institutional and systemic racism, including as pertained to law enforcement, and access to justice, education, health and employment; and all other forms of discrimination. In implementing the Convention, the Government encouraged civil society organizations to complement its efforts to ensure the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Furthermore, Zambia had started a process to establish a permanent mechanism that would be responsible for monitoring the implementation of all treaties. The Government remained resolute in its efforts to enhance human rights for the well-being of all persons without discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

In the discussion that followed, Committee Experts thanked the representative of Zambia, who had been placed in an unusual situation, but nevertheless made an effort that the Committee appreciated. Like other post-colonial societies, Zambia had struggled with how to prevent and eliminate the racial and class inequalities left by the colonialists. While it was clear from the State party report that Zambia had taken some measures to do so, challenges remained. On discrimination against workers, Experts asked if there had been any additional cases recently, in particular concerning large commercial agricultural farms and in mines owned by expatriates. Where did the burden of proof lie when white discrimination against black workers took place in such enterprises? There had only been one complaint related to racial discrimination brought before the Zambian Human Rights Commission according to the State party. They asked about the outcome of this case and the reasons why there were no other cases. While the Committee had received anecdotal information about accusations of racial discrimination concerning white farmers from South Africa and Zimbabwe and Chinese-run mines, firm statistics would be preferable. Committee Experts also said the presence of the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. demonstrated respect for the Committee on the part of the State party. However, the interactive dialogue with the State party was fundamental for the Committee to assess precisely its degree of compliance with the Convention. They expressed concerns about the repercussions of the absence of the State party’s delegation.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Kaemba thanked the Committee for its questions. However, she said that attempting to respond to these questions would not do them justice. She acknowledged that it was an obligation for the delegation to be present. They had not been able to come, unfortunately, and the Government regretted this. Within 48 hours, Zambia would be able to respond to every question in writing.

Verene A. Shepherd, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Zambia, reiterated how thankful she was for the Chargé d’Affaires a.i.’ presence. She heard her commitment to provide answers within 48 hours, which the Committee appreciated. Questions and issues were raised by the Committee Experts because they were Zambia’s partners in combatting the scourge of racial discrimination. She expressed hope that the State party received them in that spirit. The fight against racial discrimination was difficult in post-colonial societies and would require time, she stated.

Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. for her presence. It was necessary to “give time to time”. The Committee looked forward to receiving Zambia’s answers.

The Committee will next meet in public on Friday, 10 May when it will conclude its ninety-eighth session.

Report

The Committee had before it the combined seventeenth to nineteenth periodic report of Zambia (CERD/C/ZMB/17-19).

Presentation of the Report

MARGRET MARY LUNGO KAEMBA, Minister Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, apologized for the absence of the delegation, which did not in any way mean that Zambia was not committed to the Convention. The fight against racism must be relentless if it was to succeed. The Government had taken note of the list of themes in relation to the report, which had been submitted to relevant stakeholders at the national level. A written update, which would provide responses under these themes, would be submitted to the Committee as soon as the relevant information was validated at the national level. Zambia remained committed to the fight against race-based hostility and violence; forms of institutional and systemic racism, including as pertained to law enforcement, and access to justice, education, health and employment; and all other forms of discrimination. In implementing the Convention, the Government encouraged civil society organizations to complement its efforts to ensure the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Furthermore, Zambia had started a process to establish a permanent mechanism that would be responsible for monitoring the implementation of all treaties. The Government remained resolute in its efforts to enhance human rights for the well-being of all persons without discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Ms. Kaemba thanked the United Nations system which had been providing appropriate support; the Human Rights Commission for its checks and balances; and civil society organizations for their dedication in sensitizing members of the general public on human rights issues.

Questions by the Country Rapporteur

VERENE. A. SHEPHERD, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Zambia, thanked the representative of Zambia, who had been placed in an unusual situation, but nevertheless made an effort that the Committee appreciated. Like other post-colonial societies, Zambia had struggled with how to prevent and eliminate the racial and class inequalities left by the colonialists. While it was clear from the State party report that Zambia had taken some measures to do so, challenges remained. Noting that the State party did not provide any explanations for missing the 5 March 2009 deadline to submit its report, she said the Committee would be keen to hear about the challenges and constraints that prevented it from meeting its timely reporting obligations.

The Rapporteur requested a more updated Common Core Document with statistics from the 2010 population and housing census, as well as information on the indigenous peoples’ numbers, legal status, and socio-economic situation. Why had the amended Constitution of Zambia made no changes to the Bill of Rights to enshrine indigenous peoples’ rights, notably land rights? She also enquired about socio-economic indicators related to ethnic groups, asking for information which would shed light on each ethnic group’s situation. Underscoring that in Zambia 42.3 per cent of the population lived in extreme poverty, with 60.5 per cent living under the poverty line, she enquired about the impact of positive actions towards Zambians under the Citizens’ Empowerment Act, which were outlined on page 14 of the State party report.

Turning to discrimination against workers, the Rapporteur asked if there had been any additional cases recently, in particular concerning large commercial agricultural farms and in mines owned by expatriates. Where did the burden of proof lie when white discrimination against black workers took place in such enterprises? There had only been one complaint related to racial discrimination brought before the Zambian Human Rights Commission according to the State party. She asked about the outcome of this case and why there had been no other cases. While the Committee had received anecdotal information about accusations of racial discrimination concerning white farmers from South Africa and Zimbabwe and Chinese-run mines, firm statistics would be preferable.

The Rapporteur asked for an update on the impact of laws, policies and strategies - including legislative and administrative actions - used to prevent and punish people involved in human trafficking. She also requested information on the impact of activities undertaken under the human rights awareness raising programmes conducted by the Human Rights Commission of Zambia in collaboration with various partners. How effective had the legal provisions that covered article 5 of the Convention been in protecting rights? On refugees, how current were the figures of voluntary repatriation?

Was the discriminatory ground for committing criminal acts defined as an aggravating circumstance in the Penal Code, she further asked. She requested information on the application of section 70 of the Penal Code as well as investigations, prosecutions, convictions, sanctions and redress measures related to hate speech and hate crimes.

Turning to land rights, she asked if the delegation could provide information on Zambia’s efforts to address this issue, in so far as peasants and those who claimed customary use of land and prior possession were being evicted. Could the delegation comment on how Chinese-run copper mines complied with relevant domestic and international labour and human rights standards? How did they compare to other copper mining companies in Zambia? How were racial discrimination complaints of Zambians working in these mines dealt with?

The Rapporteur noted the commendable efforts made by the Government to protect the 25,324 persons with albinism who lived in the country. What more could it do to ensure their protection under article 5 of the Convention?

Questions by Other Experts

GUN KUT, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Follow-up to Concluding Observations, recalled that the Committee attached great importance to the timeliness of report submissions. The Committee wished to be informed of developments regarding the preparation of upcoming reports. Its previous recommendations required constant performance on the part of the State party, not just action limited to a year, he added.

Another Expert asked for more information about the empowerment services offered to citizens who had been victims of discrimination on grounds covered by article 1 of the Convention. The Constitutional amendments of 2016 provided that the Human Rights Commission should have a presence in various provinces and districts. Could the delegation provide more information on progress achieved in that regard? He also enquired about campaigns that had been conducted to raise public awareness on the gender equity commission.

Another Expert, noting the absence of racial discrimination cases before the courts and the State party’s reference to various instances of “ethnic discrimination” in its report, asked what the Government considered to be an “ethnic discrimination”. Could the delegation provide information on racial discrimination-related administrative measures that were not pursuant to immigration or immigrants?

Recalling that health was an important component of the Sustainable Development Goals, another Expert pointed out that Zambia had a national plan on health. What further progress had been made on that front?

Another Expert recalled that there had been a wave of xenophobia in Zambia, which had notably affected Rwandan refugees. Could the delegation provide an update on what been done to address this problem? Turning to albinism, he stressed that people who had this condition suffered from exclusion, organ trafficking, etc. He enquired about steps the Government would take to address this situation.

Pointing out that there were numerous Angolan refugees in Zambia, another Expert asked for information about their repatriation. Did they leave of their own free will?

On forced marriages, had there been developments in preventing them? Was customary law applied uniformly to all ethnic groups? Who enforced customary law? Could a person from a given ethnic group decide to be covered by the personal law of another ethnic group?

Another Expert said the presence of the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. demonstrated respect for the Committee on the part of the State party. However, the interactive dialogue with the State party was fundamental for the Committee to assess precisely its degree of compliance with the Convention. He expressed concerns about the repercussions of the absence of the State party’s delegation.

Did the Constitution recognize customary laws, asked another Expert? She also asked about the status of migrants and refugees in the country. Could a refugee be involved in associations? How was one to acquire Zambian nationality?

Another Expert asked about the status and working conditions of mine workers.

Concluding Remarks

MARGRET MARY LUNGO KAEMBA, Minister Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for its questions. However, attempting to respond to these questions would not do them justice. She acknowledged that it was an obligation for the delegation to be present. It was not to be, unfortunately, and the Government regretted this. Within 48 hours, Zambia would be able to respond to the questions.

VERENE. A. SHEPHERD, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Zambia, reiterated how thankful she was for the Chargé d’Affaires’ presence. She heard her commitment to provide answers within 48 hours, which the Committee appreciated. Questions and issues were raised by the Committee Experts because they were Zambia’s partners in combatting the scourge of racial discrimination. She expressed hope that the State party received them in that spirit. The fight against racial discrimination was difficult in post-colonial societies and would require time, she stated.

NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, thanked the Chargé d’Affaires for her presence. It was necessary to “give time to time”. The Committee looked forward to receiving Zambia’s answers.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CERD0/19/008E