Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions

Zambia is governed by a president and a unicameral national assembly. In October 2008 former vice president Rupiah Banda was elected president; Banda replaced former president Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, who died the same year. Zambia is a multiparty democracy, although the Movement for Multiparty Democracy exerts considerable influence through its patronage and allotment of government resources. The government's human rights record remained poor, but there were improvements in a few areas. Human rights problems included unlawful killings; torture, beatings, and abuse of criminal suspects and detainees by security forces; poor and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and prolonged detention; long delays in trials; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, and assembly; and government corruption and impunity. Additional problems included abuse of women and children; trafficking in persons; discrimination against persons with disabilities, restrictions on labor rights; forced labor and child labor.

Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The highest U.S. priority for advancing democracy and good governance in the country is supporting continued progress in the government's campaign against corruption. U.S. efforts are coordinated with foreign partners and local NGOs. During meetings with local officials, U.S. representatives stress the importance of taking concrete steps to fight corruption. Additional priorities for improving respect for human rights and democracy include strengthening political process transparency, media independence, civil society, and rule of law, as well as eliminating gender-based violence, human trafficking, and the worst forms of child labor.

Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

U.S. programs and diplomatic efforts encourage the government to continue measurable efforts against corruption, including the adoption of new legislation; strengthening institutional capacity; reducing opportunities for graft; establishing an internationally compliant antimoney-laundering framework; expanding press freedom and access to information; and making government more transparent, streamlined, and accountable. For example, a U.S. assistance program that ended in September 2008 focused on increasing transparency to reduce opportunities for corruption by civil servants. The program led to improvement in anticorruption indicators and government efficiency. The United States is working with the government to ensure proposals for related future international cooperation efforts incorporate input from civil society.

Public diplomacy and dialogue facilitation are used by the United States to encourage improvements in electoral and political processes and the strengthening of the judicial branch, civil society and the independent media. For example, U.S. officials drew on the 2008 presidential election campaign in the United States to emphasize parallel themes of issue-based voting, women in politics, and political accountability in the country's unexpected presidential elections. The U.S. Government also funded a speaker on the importance of civil society who addressed themes of advocacy, dissent, and freedom of expression. U.S. assistance sponsored an expert who spoke to government and civil society audiences about government transparency and freedom of information legislation. In addition, local journalists participated in U.S.-sponsored international visitor programs involving radio broadcasting and journalism in the United States.

A U.S.-sponsored initiative offered support to survivors of gender-based violence, including through the creation of one-stop centers that provide medical, legal, and other assistance. Through this initiative, the U.S. Government provided training to police and public prosecutors on the prosecution of gender-based violence cases. U.S. assistance also funded information campaigns on gender-based violence by several local NGOs and sponsored a participant in an international visitor program on women and justice in the United States. The United States continues to sponsor trainings for security forces that contain a strong component on respecting human rights.

The United States continues to fund activities aimed at building the government's capacity to design, implement, and monitor initiatives to address the worst forms of child labor. In addition, U.S. assistance programs continue to raise awareness of trafficking in persons, highlighting the issue at all levels of government. For example, the United States provided funds to train police and other security personnel in trafficking detection, as well as to assist the government in developing a new antitrafficking law. Additionally, a police officer attended a U.S. sponsored international visitor program focusing on combating human trafficking.