Speaking in Lusaka on Thursday at the launch of Chapter One Foundation, an organization headed by former Law Association of Zambia president Linda Kasonde, Mwandenga said he was happy that more organizations were being formed to promote and defend human rights of citizens.
“A society can never have enough of human rights defenders, we need human rights defenders to take up the mantle of promoting human rights in Zambia. Therefore the establishment of Chapter One is a welcome development. I am therefore delighted to have been invited to make remarks at this launch,” Mwandenga said.
“The human rights protection framework in Zambia has often been criticised for not being comprehensive enough to promote and protect human rights. What then can we do? Do we sit or stand and not do anything more? My answer to that is, we do everything we can within our power to ensure every person in Zambia enjoys their rights to the maximum potential. This means, doing what human rights work is about. Namely working to change attitudes and perceptions as well as working to develop and improve the policy and legal framework for the promotion and protection of human rights. It also means embracing partnerships and collaboration amongst stakeholders and with stakeholders such as Chapter One because, in the end we all need a better Zambia and a better world where human rights are respected.”
He announced that the Human Rights Commission and Chapter One were planning on partnering in areas of mutual benefit for both institutions.
“And we hope to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to that effect. The desired outcome of that MOU being that the promotion and protection of human rights for all in Zambia will be enhanced so as to have a meaningful impact on all persons in Zambia. The Commission has always been and remains committed to fulfilling its constitutional and legal mandate by ensuring that fundamental human rights are upheld. In discharging its mandate, the Commission welcomes the establishment of like-minded organizations and welcomes partnership with them in order to effectively promote and protect human rights in Zambia,” said Mwandenga.
“Therefore, the Human Rights Commission would like to encourage civil society organisations in Zambia to play a more pronounced role in ensuring the observance of human rights in Zambia. The Human Rights Commission believes that civil society provides a critical foundation for holding Governments accountable, ensuring good governance, and promoting all human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. Civil society also plays an important role of bridging the gap between citizens and the government and therefore can be and should be a conduit for information between the citizens and government and vice-versa. I would therefore like to encourage all the organizations and institutions that are present here to continue supporting programmes that enhance citizens’ awareness of their rights as well as strengthening the laws, policies and institutions mandated with promoting and protecting human rights.”