Main Menu
Human Trafficking
Street Children

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                      

Republic of Zambia

Allegations of police brutality are widespread, and security forces generally operate with impunity.

Conditions in pretrial detention facilities and prisons are poor, and reports of forced labor, abuse of inmates by authorities, and deplorable health conditions continue.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Zambia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Zambia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Zambia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 12 August 2021]


Local media reported police used arbitrary and excessive force to enforce public health regulations implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Chapter One Foundation, police routinely beat individuals found frequenting bars and other commercial locations in violation of COVID-19 restrictions.

Impunity was a significant problem within the security forces, particularly police, and was especially common during the COVID-19 pandemic. The factors that contributed to impunity were a lack of training in, understanding of, and respect for human rights.


Physical conditions in prisons and detention centers remained harsh and life threatening due to overcrowding, frequent outbreaks of disease, food and potable water shortages, poor sanitation, and inadequate medical care.


Pretrial Detention: Prolonged pretrial detention, including that of irregular migrants awaiting trial or removal, continued to be a problem. On average detainees spent an estimated six months in pretrial detention, which often exceeded the maximum length of the prison sentence corresponding to the detainee’s alleged crime. Contributing factors included inability to meet bail requirements, trial delays, and trial continuances due to absent prosecutors and their witnesses.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 18 May 2020]


Allegations of police brutality are widespread, and security forces generally operate with impunity. In March 2017, a Zambian air force officer was brutally beaten and killed while being detained for a minor traffic violation, in an incident the Human Rights Commission ruled amounted to his torture. The police officers and inmates responsible were arrested and charged for his murder.

Conditions in pretrial detention facilities and prisons are poor, and reports of forced labor, abuse of inmates by authorities, and deplorable health conditions continue.

Let’s criminalise torture – Inonge

Zambia Daily Mail, 3 March 2015

[accessed 31 March 2015]

[accessed 20 January 2019]

Vice-President Inonge Wina says torture should be criminalised because it has a lot of devastating effects on individuals and society.

Mrs Wina noted that lack of a legal framework that criminalises torture is the most serious challenge in the fight against the vice.

“Without torture being a clearly defined offence under our penal laws, we have seen a situation where acts of torture are being perpetrated which is not in accordance with the gravity of the offence committed,” she said.

The vice-president said that torture is not just a form of violence but a grave violation of human rights which has damaging consequences on the victims.

Mrs Wina called for concerted efforts at all levels to eliminate the possibility of torture occurring anywhere in the country.

NGO Denounces Torture in Zambian Prison

Charles Sakala, Zambia Reports, 6 May 2013

[accessed 7 May 2013]

The Prisons Carer and Counseling Association (PRISCA) executive director Geoffrey Malembeka has asked the Zambia Prisons Service to stop torturing two inmates who were re-captured after a dramatic prison break two months ago.

In an interview, Malembeka said torturing prisoners was not a solution to rehabilitating prisoners because it was also against law and human rights.

He said in Lusaka that the Zambia Prisons Service must engage the social counseling strategy in rehabilitating inmates.

"We are aware that the prisoners who had escaped but were re-arrested in Chipata last week are being tortured. This is an old method of dealing with such situations.

Policing and Human Rights -- Assessing southern African countries’ compliance with the SARPCCO Code of Conduct for Police Officials

Edited by Amanda Dissel & Cheryl Frank, African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum APCOF, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-920489-81-6

[accessed 25 March 2014]


No police official shall, under any circumstances, inflict, instigate, or tolerate any act of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of any person.

Torture and other forms of ill-treatment occur with alarming frequency. The ZHRC has noted many instances of police torture and ill-treatment. This occurs against suspects and against detainees in police detention.  In 2009 and 2010, Human Rights Watch and PRISCA interviewed 249 inmates in prison for a study on the health of inmates. They found that ‘testimony provided by prisoners indicated an ongoing widespread and systematic pattern of brutality’ by the police while they were in police custody’.  Prisoners reported that they had been repeatedly beaten by police in order to extract confessions. Some of the beatings resulted in serious injury, with some even sustaining permanent injury. Police from the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) were particularly implicated in ‘systematic abuse, including binding and hanging prisoners from the ceiling to force confessions’. Civil society organisations have also noted widespread torture and abuse by police, even for ‘petty crimes such as stealing cell phones’.

Zambia: Police Brutality, Torture Rife

Human Rights Watch HRW, New York, 7 September 2010

[accessed 14 Feb 2014]

Human Rights Watch, the Prisons Care and Counselling Association, and the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa interviewed prisoners at six prisons throughout Zambia's central corridor. They described what happened to them in police custody, before they were transferred to prison. Dozens of detainees said they had been beaten with metal bars, hammers, broom handles, police batons, sticks, or even electrified rods. Many said they had been bound first and hung upside down. Female detainees reported that police officers tried to coerce sex in exchange for their release.

"Hanging suspects from the ceiling and beating them to coerce confessions is routine police practice in Zambia," said Rona Peligal, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The government needs to call an immediate halt to police abuse, investigate violations, and strengthen grievance mechanisms."

These reports of physical abuse of men, women, and children held in police custody indicate a widespread and systematic pattern of brutality, in some cases rising to the level of torture, Human Rights Watch said.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/ZMB/CO/2 (2008)

[accessed 12 March 2013]

Obligation to investigate and the right to complain

8. The Committee notes with satisfaction that the Human Rights Commission is allowed to conduct prison and police cells inspections. However, it is concerned that it does not have sufficient financial and human resources to conduct such visits nor the power to take action against persons found guilty, as it can only make recommendations to the competent authorities.  The Committee also expresses concern about the frequent failure by the State party to implement the Commission’s recommendations and that the Commission is not competent to initiate legal proceedings on behalf of complainants (art. 11).

10. While noting that officers found guilty by the Police Public Complaints Authority have been charged with administrative sanctions, the Committee regrets the absence of prosecution of perpetrators of torture and cruel, in-human or degrading treatment, as well as the lack of appropriate penalties for such perpetrators. The Committee is also concerned at the lack of appropriate compensation for victims of torture (arts. 4 and 14).


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 20 January 2019]

Scroll Down


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 3   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 17 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

Allegations of police corruption, brutality, and even torture are widespread, but security forces have generally operated with impunity. Prison conditions are very harsh; severe overcrowding, poor nutrition, and limited access to health care have led to many inmate deaths. In 2007, the government began efforts to reduce crowding, in part by pardoning over 800 convicts. More than 100 prisoners were pardoned in 2008.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 17 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, police frequently used excessive force when apprehending, interrogating, and detaining criminal suspects or illegal immigrants, and there were reports of torture. Authorities detained, interrogated, and physically abused family members or associates of criminal suspects in attempts to identify or locate suspects (see section 1.f.). Officers who tortured, beat, or otherwise abused suspects generally were not disciplined or arrested for such acts, although local human rights organizations, particularly LRF, were active in pressing for such action.

Langton Sakala reported that Lusaka police beat and tortured him from December 21, 2004 to January 19, following his detention on charges of theft. Sakala said that police beat him with a baton and put him on the "kampelwa," to force a confession. The kampelwa involves using a rope or handcuffs to bind a suspect by the hands and feet, or sometimes just the feet, and hanging the suspect upside down from a rod and beating him. Sakala filed a civil suit against the officers, which was still pending at year's end.

In December 2004 police officers accused Terry Bilumba of taking part in an armed robbery and brought him to the Livingstone Central Police Station where they beat him. After releasing Bilumba, police detained him for questioning again on January 8. Bilumba was later released without charges.

On June 7, police arrested Ben Chola on firearms charges. Chola said that police beat him repeatedly with a steel rod and suspended him in the kampelwa until his father paid approximately $25 (100 thousand kwacha) for his unconditional release on June 16.

The January 2004 case of torture of Nkumbwa Daniel Jones was referred to the Police Public Complaints Authority (PPCA) and was under investigation at year's end.

In the case of the March 2004 beating and paralysis of Aliyele Sakala, he has reportedly moved to another village and LRF has not been able to pursue his case.

At year's end there was no new information in the case of the March 2004 beating of Adam Simukwai.

Victims of state-sponsored torture following the 1997 coup attempt were still awaiting compensation recommended in 2000 by a special commission appointed to investigate allegations of torture. The civil case against former Drug Enforcement Commission Deputy Commissioner Teddy Nondo, former Commissioner of Police Emmanuel Lukonde, and Attorney General George Kunda was still pending at year's end; Commissioner Lukonde died during the year.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES. 

Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Zambia",, [accessed <date>]