HUMAN Rights Commission (HRC) says xenophobia, just like the on-going ritual killings in Zambia, is a crime against humanity and therefore a violation of human rights.
And the commission has charged that targeting an individual or a group of individuals purely because of their identity such as nationality or place of origin, ethnicity, tribal or social status was one of the worst forms of violation of human rights because it was discriminatory.
HRC chief of information, education and training Mweelwa Muleya stated that Government had a primary duty to take effective measures to prevent the on-going suspected ritual killings within the provisions of the law and must also protect everyone, including non-nationals, from any form of violence or abuse such as destroying their properties and threatening their lives.
Mr Muleya said it was gross injustice that foreign nationals such as refugees, immigrants or asylum seekers to become easy targets of blame and anger for the spate of ritual killings which the police are still investigating to establish the culprits.
He said every citizen must exercise self-restraint, as painful as the cold-blooded murder of their beloved ones may be, and allow the law enforcement officers to thoroughly investigate and bring the culprits to justice instead of taking ‘‘an easy route of mob indictment of all foreigners’’.
Mr Muleya said anyone suspected of being engaged in criminal activities must be subjected to the due process of the law and if found guilty by the courts of law, be punished in accordance with the law.
Mr Muleya appealed to the Zambia Police Service to effectively and expeditiously deal with the cases of ritual murders, and enhance their community relations and communication in order for the people to understand and appreciate the measures being taken to protect them.
“Human Rights Commission appeals for self-restraint against xenophobic tendencies in the face of suspected ritual killings,” he said
Mr Muleya said the commission strongly condemned the looting and destruction of shops and properties of foreign nationals in some selected parts of Lusaka by residents who were protesting the barbaric suspected ritual killings in the city.
“The commission wishes to put it on record that it condemns the current brutal killings of individuals because they constitute atrocious and irrevocable violation of human rights.
“The commission is, however, deeply concerned at utterances and actions that have the effect of causing fear and hatred against foreigners because such behaviour constitutes xenophobia,” Mr Muleya said.