By Peter Sinkamba
LAURA MITI IS CALIBRE DESERVING APPOINTMENT AT HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
I have had interactions with commissioners at Human Rights Commission since its establishment in May 1993, when late President Fredrick Chiluba appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations by past governments. Initially called the Munyama Commission, headed by prominent lawyer Bruce Munyama, the commission held public hearings throughout the country to gather evidence of human rights violations.
Not all commissioners were brave in the Munyama Commission. Outstanding with bravery were late John Chipawa Sakulanda and Laura Harrison. Among other things, the duo exposed the use of torture in secret detention centers throughout the country. The duo took to task police and prison officers who were into the habit of torture and abuse of human rights.
Following on the Munyama Commission’s suggestion, in1996 the government made amendments to the constitution to provide for the establishment of a permanent human rights commission under Article 25. The Human Rights Commission Act of 1997 was passed by the Zambian parliament on March 13, 1997 and signed into law by President Chiluba.
The Human Rights Commission Act was billed as a central pillar of the MMD’s efforts of legal reform to bring about a culture of respect of human rights by all in the country. President Chiluba appointed then High Court Judge Lombe Chibesakunda to chair the Permanent Human Rights Commission (PHRC), along with five other commissioners. Of the five, only Sakulanda crossed over from the Munyama Commission.
Sakulanda continued serving the PHRC with unmatched bravery to protect and uphold human rights in Zambia till his untimely death in 2006.
Thereafter, the commission became a shadow of itself, full of pretenders for human rights commissioners.
I have keenly followed Laura Miti commentaries since her appointment as a Commissioner at PHRC. To me, the commentaries she makes in her personal capacity on social media, and elsewhere, reveal a frustrated courageous soul working with pretenders.
I think she could have made impactful contributions to human rights accountability by all if only she had served during the reign of Laura Harrison and late John Sakulanda at PHRC. Instead of making running lamentations, Sakulanda and the two Lauras would have by now moved PHRC to pack IG Musamba were he surely belongs.