Rights body lacks power to act

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has no powers to prosecute offenders of Human Rights in order to measure its efficiency and effectiveness, says HRC spokesperson Samuel Khasanka has said
He was reacting to UPND former Siavonga Member of Parliament Douglas Syakalima’s statement that the commission was a disgrace by failing to protect and defend human rights which were constantly violated by the PF government, Mr. Khasanka said that only if the body had powers to prosecute such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Drug Enforcement Agency and the Zambia Police, the commission was toothless in its current form.
He said that it was important for people criticizing the institution to realize that the commission could not operate outside theAct of Parliament which established it.
“As an institution which was established by an Act of parliament No. 39 of 1996, our operations, functions and powers are stipulated in that same act. We cannot prosecute,  but we recommend any issue of Human Right abuses or violation to the police for action. And in most cases you find that complainants of such matters complain against the police. Do you think that police will effectively act on such cases?” he said.
He said that the limitations as provided for by the HRC act number 31 rendrered the body toothless as it could only go as far as recommend  action but cared not to prosecute a matter under its investigation.Mr.Khasanka said that if the commission was given powers to prosecute and act on its own findings the story would have been differently .
Mr. Khasanka said that the statement against the commission by Mr. Syakalima were strange, adding that as a former parliamentarian he was aware of the limitations.

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