Human Rights WatchWorld Report ContentsDownloadPrintOrderHRW Homepage

World map Zambia



Europe and Central Asia

Middle East and North Africa

Special Issues and Campaigns

United States


Children’s Rights

Women’s Human Rights


The Role of the International Community
The international community’s efforts to press for improved human rights protection and governance remained exemplary. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and especially the governments of Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe played an important role in pushing for rights improvements in Zambia. The bilateral donors’ resolve to offer balance of payments support in return for positive actions by the Zambia government had results in the runup to the May Consultative Group meeting in Paris. The World Bank postponed this meeting in December 1997 and told the government that it would only be held when the state of emergency was lifted. At the May meeting, donors pledged U.S. $235 million in balance of payments support and U.S. $295 million in project aid. These pledges were conditional to specific benchmarks including measures reflecting improved respect for human rights (especially an independent investigation into allegations of torture). Unheard of for a consultative group meeting, the World Bank’s final press statement specifically mentioned human rights concerns, a response to robust lobbying in Paris by NGOs.

European Union, Canada, Norway, Japan
The European Union condemned the October coup attempt and issued a strong statement calling for the protection of human rights. When former president Kaunda was arrested, the E.U. issued a statement calling on the government to “fully respect the human rights of all political detainees in accordance with internationally agreed standards and in particular strongly condemns the use of torture against persons under arrest.” A high level visit from the United Kingdom, scheduled for January was canceled when unhindered access to Kaunda was not guaranteed. When a new British High Commissioner, Tom Young, presented credentials on January 6, he reaffirmed that democracy and human rights remained priorities for his government.

Denmark in this period froze funds for a U.S. $43 million road building aid project until allegations of torture were adequately dealt with. The E.U. also set three preconditions for balance of payments resumption for its members, also supported in practice by Canada, Norway and Japan. These three conditionalities were that the coup attempt detainees should be charged or released; that the state of emergency should be lifted; and that the allegations of torture should be officially addressed. When the government extended the state of emergency on January 29 the E.U. promptly issued a statement condemning the “continued suspension of basic human rights.” The E.U. also strongly urged the government to urgently “investigate allegations of torture made by some detainees.” When the state of emergency was lifted on March 18, this was welcomed but the E.U. reiterated its position on “the need for a full investigation into allegations of torture.”

United States
The United States is not a major player in Zambia but made efforts through the year to push for improved respect for human rights. In December 1997, Reverend Jesse Jackson, President Clinton’s special envoy for the promotion of democracy in Africa, visited Zambia. On December 3 and 4 he met with government officials, opposition members, NGOs, civic groups and the Human RightsCommission. Jackson on his arrival urged the government “to do something” about the reported torture of detainees allegedly involved in the failed coup.

When Kaunda was arrested on December 25, the U.S. released a statement condemning the arrest and on December 29, special envoy Jesse Jackson phoned President Chiluba to seek assurances that Kaunda was well and would be released. Following the extension of the state of emergency in January, the U.S. issued a strong statement deploring the decision as an action that “undermines [the] government’s efforts to build Zambia’s democracy and to assure internationally recognized human rights for all Zambians.” The U.S. also called for an investigation into allegations of torture.

Relevant Human Rights Watch report:
No Model for Democracy: Continuing Human Rights Violations, 5/98




The Democratic Republic of Congo







Sierra Leone

South Africa





Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

Abduction and Enslavement of Ugandan Children

Human Rights Causes of the Famine in Sudan


Copyright © 1999
Human RIghts Watch