Barotse application misdirected-SG


THE Government has rejected claims that it was abrogating human rights and therefore giving rise to the cessation demand by the Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA).

The Alliance has written to the African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) to have Western Province secede from Zambia because of alleged ill-treatment of Lozis.

But in response Government has dismissed the allegation and has asserted that the application was misplaced because the organization could not deal with matters that occurred before its creation.

Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa said this was because the Barotseland Agreement came into force in 1964 well before the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights came into force in 1986.

Responding to ACHPR in a matter in which BNFA has dragged Zambia to the Banjul-based body, Mr Mwansa said the complainants from Barotseland had not demonstrated that they had exhausted local remedies and have not lodged any case in any courts of law in the Republic of Zambia.

He said if there were any human rights violations against the people of Barotseland, then Zambia should be given an opportunity to remedy the situation before being taken before the ACHPR.

The State has further argued that it had not carried out any unprovoked arrests and killings of Barotse youths, stating that such reports were solely based on news disseminated through the mass media.

The Government also submitted that the AU should reject Barotseland’s bid to secede from Zambia just as it rejected the bid by the Katanga Province to pull out of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo).

In 2013 the BNFA submitted a 258-page petition of alleged “forensic evidence” and arguments to the ACHPR, detailing human rights violations against the people of Barotseland.

BNFA secretary general Mungandi Mungandi said efforts were currently underway to respond to Zambia’s “contradictory” submission made by the solicitor general.

He alleged that the preliminary reading of the cases which were cited in the submission by the Zambian Government had no similarity, both in law and fact, to the conflict at hand between Barotseland and Zambia as well as being contradictory to the issues at hand.

“Our immediate reaction is that Zambia’s submission is nothing more than in their abyss to continue to circumvent the principles of governance at a continental level of the African Union in the same manner it has done internally in respect of Barotseland,” he said.

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