Zambia is a republic of 11.9 million citizens governed by a president and a unicameral national assembly. President Levy Mwanawasa of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) was reelected in 2006 for a second, and constitutionally mandated final, five-year term. Zambia is a multiparty democracy, although the MMD exerts considerable influence through its patronage and allotment of government resources. The government's human rights record remained poor, although 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 and press; government corruption and impunity; trafficking in persons; and limited enforcement of labor rights and child labor laws.
Many fledgling democratic processes and institutions in Zambia require U.S. government support. Using diplomacy and available U.S. programs, and in coordination with foreign partners and local NGOs, the embassy is encouraging the government to continue measurable efforts against corruption through the adoption of new legislation, strengthening institutional capacity, reducing opportunities for graft, expanding freedom of the press and access to information, and making government more transparent, streamlined, and accountable. Assistance will also be provided to support capacity building of the judiciary.
In recognition of the role of the media in improving governance, the United States seeks opportunities to strengthen media professionalism, and to push for greater press freedom and access to information. U.S. officials remain actively involved in a dialogue with the government in anticipation of 2011 elections (which will not have an incumbent presidential candidate). New programming under the Women's Justice and Empowerment Initiative will reinforce judicial and police efforts at recognizing, investigating, and prosecuting gender-based violence. U.S. law enforcement training programs contribute to improved governance and accountability by building skills and enhancing the professionalism of government officials, law enforcement, and the military. By supporting programs to combat child labor, trafficking in persons, and gender-based violence, the embassy strengthens the government's capacity to govern effectively and responsively.
In 2007 the United States continued to implement the Zambia Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Threshold Program, which seeks to eliminate opportunities for administrative corruption in institutions and to strengthen the ability of the anticorruption commission. Activities under the MCA program included the implementation of new systems at Immigration, the Zambian Revenue Authority, and the Patents and Companies Registration Office that streamlined business processes and made them more transparent, as well as the adoption of citizens' charters and codes of ethics. These reforms helped to begin the process of creating efficient public monitoring and reporting mechanisms to identify corruption and monitor the effectiveness of government reforms.
A U.S.-funded consultant recently assisted the Ministry of Justice in formulating new legislation on whistleblower protection, proceeds of crime, rules of evidence, and disclosure of assets by public servants. The government continued prosecutions against former President Chiluba, former cabinet ministers, senior military commanders, senior civil servants, and managers of state-owned enterprises charged with theft and abuse of office. The United States and four other donors provided support to the second phase of a parliamentary reform project through June 2007 to transform the national assembly into an effective, independent legislature. During the last months of the project, additional constituency offices were opened, promoting accountability and increasing citizens' access to their parliamentary representatives.
The United States continued its support for training that included significant human rights components for Zambian law enforcement officers. Over 40 security officials received training at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Gaborone, Botswana, and the United States, and an additional 80 law enforcement officers received training in country in 2007. In August 2007, 560 participants in the first Zambia iteration of a training and assistance program for peacekeepers completed their course. The United States also sponsored training designed to promote independent media, the importance of media as a watchdog, the development of professional media associations, and community media. The United States provided journalists with Internet training, access, and research guidance in an effort to improve their reporting skills. U.S. officials used outreach opportunities such as speeches to press organizations and meetings with high-level government officials to highlight the importance of press freedom and freedom of information.
Child labor and child prostitution were the country's most serious manifestations of trafficking in persons. The United States continued to fund activities aimed at building the government's capacity to design, implement, and monitor initiatives to address the worst forms of child labor as defined in international conventions. In addition, the United States continued to raise awareness of trafficking in persons, highlighting the issue at all levels of government. The United States provided project funds to renovate interview rooms in nine police stations around the country, to give computers and statistical tracking software to the Zambian Police Service's Central Statistical Office, and to assist in trainings for security and immigration personnel. The U.S. government is providing additional funding to develop an antitrafficking curriculum that will be used in police and military training academies.