Blocking of Barotsepost, Zambia Reports and Zambia Watchdog Web Sites, as well as the Non Recognition of the Barotseland Agreement 1964, Among Major Human Rights Abuses By Zambia in 2013 - USA

01 March 2014
Author 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

Although Zambia is a constitutional republic governed by a democratically elected president and a unicameral national assembly, United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has reported that Serious human rights abuses were committed by Zambia during the year 2013

Among these abuses cited under Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including Freedom of Speech and Press, internet freedoms were not respected such as the blocking of this publication, Barotse Post (cited as Barotse Reports) and two major Zambian websites, Zambia Reports and Zambia Watchdog, critical of Zambia's bad governance.

Barotsepost is not only a media platform that seeks to highlight the social political and economic aspirations of the people of Barotseland, but also gives them the platform to express themselves freely without censorship. As such the Zambian government has widely banned it considering it seditious. Many Barotse have been arrested for merely possessing news article extracts from the publication.

With Zambian media outlets forbidden to publish any view point contrary to the Zambian government stand point on the matters relating to the abrogated pre - independence Barotseland Agreement 1964 between then Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland that gave birth to the republic of Zambia, which successive government failed to honor, Barotsepost has been the only media platform that has given the Barotse people exclusive coverage, thereby Zambian government labeling this publication 'propagandist' and seditious.

The Barotseland Agreement of 1964, which guaranteed the political and economic autonomy of the territory of Barotseland within the new independent state of Zambia, which the new Kenneth Kaunda regime repudiated and abrogated within the first 18 months after asserting political power in 1964, and successive Zambian governments there after, has also been highlighted as a major Human Rights Abuse in the year 2013 just like the two years before that.

"The government (Zambia) does not recognize the 1964 Barotseland Agreement that granted the Lozi political autonomy and was signed by the United Kingdom, Northern Rhodesia, and the Barotse Royal Establishment immediately prior to the country’s independence. Some Lozi groups continued to demand official recognition of the Barotseland Agreement or formal secession from Zambia.

"On May 3, the Magistrates Court convicted and sentenced 17 Barotseland secessionists to six months’ imprisonment for destroying copies of the draft constitution in September 2012. On August 14, a Barotseland secessionist group announced that it had formed an administrative government and unilaterally declared independence. Police arrested more than 70 of the activists and charged them with treason. On September 24, police also arrested and charged Clement Sinyinda, former ngambela (prime minister) of the Barotse Royal Establishment in connection with the secessionist group. During several appearances in district court, the Barotse activists told the court they were not Zambian citizens and could not be tried in Zambian courts. On November 2, the state withdrew charges against 31 of the activists. The 50 remaining detainees were released without charge on November 29." the report reads in part.

The report was released by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on February 27 2014. The Zambia 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices can be downloaded in PDF format here: http://ww.state.gov/documents/organization/220386.pdf

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The Barotseland Post, also known as The Barotsepost, is an online media platform, for now, that is dedicated to reporting stories and news around Barotseland and beyond, giving exclusive coverage and access to the people and the nation of Barotseland to fully express themselves in their aspirations for self- determination.