9(B). Independent inspections


Article 33 of the CRPD requires governments to establish a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, to monitor implementation of the Convention. It also states that, “civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process”.162 Further, Article 16(3) of the CRPD sets out how every facility and programme designed to serve people with disabilities should be monitored by an independent body.

The World Health Organization wrote a report on mental health services in Zambia in 2008.163 In 2011 a parliamentary committee visited five facilities, “to check on infrastructure, the drug supply situation and staffing levels”.164 These one-off efforts need to be replaced by regular visits by an independent body, so as to comply with the CRPD.

The Zambian Human Rights Commission (HRC) was established in 1996 as an independent body with powers to investigate allegations of human rights abuses, to visit prisons and other places of detention and related facilities.165 It suffers from chronic understaffing and underfunding.166 It lacks the authority to initiate litigation. The HRC once visited the forensic ward of Chainama Hills Hospital but has never fulfilled its mandate in monitoring psychiatric facilities and has never looked at the human rights of people with mental health issues. Some of its staff members said that the Commission has received only two complaints on mental health issues: one employment matter and one family abuse allegation.

The Zambian Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ZAPD) is supposed to establish a registration system for facilities providing services to people with disabilities, and monitor and evaluate the provision of services.167 The Director General should appoint inspectors but there is no requirement that inspection reports be made publicly available.168 ZAPD staff told monitors in an interview in January 2014 that following restructuring, its monitoring capacity has increased, and it will carry out visits to formal institutions such as psychiatric wards and to informal facilities such as traditional healers. He said that the agency acknowledges how it needs to strengthen its capacity on human rights monitoring methodology.169

The 2013 Mental Health Bill mandates the future National Mental Health Commission to facilitate the monitoring and evaluation of mental health services.170 The Bill sets out how it should liaise with the Health Professions Council to inspect mental health facilities,171 and should inspect every health facility.172

162 Zambia has signed (but has not yet ratified) the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), thereby acknowledging that places of detention should be monitored by an independent inspectorate.

163 Jason Mwanza et al., Mental Health Policy Development and Implementation in Zambia: A situation analysis, 59–60, 30 March 2008.

164 Parliamentary Committee on Health, Community Development and Social Welfare, 23 September 2010.

165 Established by Article 125 of the Zambian Constitution. Also sections 9 and 10 of the Human Rights Commission Act 1996. As of December 2011, when it was last reviewed, the Human Rights Commission had A-status with the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions. ‘A-status’ means full compliance with the Paris Principles (related to the status and functioning of national institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights), and are usually accorded speaking rights and seating at human rights treaty bodies and other UN organs.

166 In April 2011, the Special Rapporteur for follow up on concluding observations of the UN Human Rights Committee (the ICCPR treaty monitoring body) referred Zambia for follow up due to, among other issues, the appropriateness of additional resources allocated to the needs of the HRC, and because powers of the HRC had not been revised since 1996. In 2008 the UN Committee against Torture expressed concern that the Zambian HRC lacked the financial and human resources to conduct visits, and noted that it did not have powers to take action against persons found guilty of abuse, since it could only make recommendations to authorities. It also expressed concern about the failure on the part of the government to implement the HRC’s recommendations. UN Committee against Torture, Concluding Observations: Zambia, 26 May 2008, CAT/C/ZMB/CO/2. See also African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights report on its promotional mission to the Republic of Zambia 14 to 18 April 2008’ UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), Concluding Observations of the Committee: Zambia, 23 June 2005, E/C 12/1/Add 106, paragraph 12.

167 Sections 14(1)(k), (n) and (o), and section 52(1) of the PWDA.

168 Ibid., sections 57(1) and 58(2).

169 Interview with ZAPD Information/Communication Officer: 31 January 2014.

170 Clause 7(13) of the Mental Health Bill.

171 Ibid., clause 7(8).

172 Ibid., clause 21(2). The relevant laws include the Health Professions Act 2009, Nurses and Midwives Act 1997 and Medicines and Allied Substance Act 2013.

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