In July this year, Zambian President Edgar Lungu pardoned musician Clifford Dimba, whose stage name is General Kanene, after serving only one year of his 18-year-jail sentencing after his conviction in 2014. The musician was later appointed as an ambassador in the fight against gender-based violence.
But upon release, the musician beat up two women in separate incidences and was arrested by police but later released, a move that forced the women movement to call for the revocation of his appointment as ambasador for gender-based violence.
“Such an outrageous release and appointment as an ambassador for the fight against gender-based violence not only traumatizes the victim all over again but discourages other victims from reporting similar offenses,” Dubravka Simonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women said in the statement.
The UN human rights experts have since urged the Zambian government to show seriousness in its efforts to tackle gender-based violence and sexual violence against women and girls by ending the impunity of the musician.
The experts have called on the Zambian government to publicly withdraw the musician’s appointment and to ensure there were no further pardons for such crimes against women and girls.
“The pardon and appointment undermine the strong message against sexual abuse of women and girls that was sent with the original sentence and trivialize the serious nature of these offenses. Rather, Clifford Dimba has been placed in a prominent position and even portrayed as a role model to fight violence against women,” the statement added.
The two independent experts highlighted that the granting of a pardon under such circumstances was incompatible with Zambia’s international human rights obligations and the Zambian leader’s role as a champion in the UN Women’s campaign HE for She.
“Furthermore it constitutes an utter disrespect for women and girls in Zambia who might rightly feel that their government is not protecting them. The pardon has meant impunity for an abhorrent crime and his subsequent appointment as ambassador for the fight against such violence is more than cynical and adds insult to injury for the victim,” Maud Boer-Buquicchio, the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, said in the statement.
The two experts have since called on the Zambian government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in order to fully comply with international norms and standards.
They have also urged authorities to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Zambia has witnessed a surge in gender-based violence in recent years. By the third quarter of 2015, the country recorded 7,241 cases compared to 12,988 cases of gender-based violence recorded last year during the same period, according to figures from the Zambia Police. Enditem