Zambian Police Banned from Marrying Foreigners

By Samantha Netzband 

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter 

LUSAKA, Zambia– Zambian police have been forbidden from marrying foreigners.  The Head of Police in Zambia issued a memo on Monday January 23 advising Zambian police to not marry foreigners effective immediately.  This ban is put in place in order to protect the Zambian people.

Zambian police officers arrive at the University of Zambia where students protest against the government’s removal of fuel and mealie meal subsidies on May 17, 2013 in Lusaka

Zambia police in the capital of Lusaka. (Photo Courtesy of BBC Africa)

For police officers who already have foreign spouses have to register their spouses by Monday January 29th.   If they do not register their spouses they will face disciplinary action.  Many are upset about this law which some are claiming is unconstitutional.  However, police spokesperson Esther Katongo defended the order by saying, ““Issues of security are delicate. If not careful, spouses can be spies and can sell the security of the country’’.

She also stated that this law has always been on the books, but given the new security situation in Zambia, it is now being enforced.  Action was being taken in order to ensure that police were complying with this previous requirement.  Some are criticizing the move saying that instead of worrying about spouses the police should better train their officers to be more professional.

For more information, please see: 

Africa Review – Outrage after Zambia police banned from marrying foreigners – 23 January 2017

BBC Africa – Zambia police banned from marrying foreigners – 23 January 2017

News Agency of Nigeria – Zambia police ban foreign wives – 23 January 2017

Vanguard – Zambia bans police officers from marrying foreigners – 23 January 2017


Middle East Briefing: From Astana to Geneva: A Ceasefire that Will Define the Future of Syria/What US National Security Policy Should We Expect from Trump and his Generals?/The Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization: To List or not to List?

In Our New Issue of “Middle East Briefing” this week



From Astana to Geneva: A Ceasefire that Will Define the Future of Syria

It will be a tough call to get Iran and Turkey to really cooperate and monitor the ceasefire in Syria as required by the trilateral deal both countries signed with Russia in Astana, Kazakhstan January 24. But let us hope …





What US National Security Policy Should We Expect from Trump and his Generals?

President Donald Trump has turned to a group of seasoned military officers to staff his national security team at the White House, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. Unlike any recent President, Donald Trump has turned his back on …




The Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization: To List or not to List?

The legislation proposed by Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Diaz-Balart to designate the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) could be viewed from multiple angles. One of those angles is legal. To join the list an organization …





An SOS from Amman

Those who listened to the Friday Sermon of January 20 given by Jordan’s Chief Justice and Imam of the Hashemite Court Sheikh Ahmed Hilyal were certainly shocked. Hilyal sent an SOS message to the Arab Gulf rulers that Jordan is …



Human Rights Watch Warns of Chinese Government Actions

By Nicole Hoerold
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China – Human Rights Watch (HRW) released their annual rights report on January 12, 2017. The report outlines HRW’s concerns for human rights violations in Southeast Asia, voicing particular concern over Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia. The report discusses a continuation of limits on free speech, with increasing signs of state suppression and censorship in various countries. The report’s summary on China speaks of similar concerns.

The wife of a human rights lawyer stood outside the Tianjin court in protest of her husband's trial (2016). Photo courtesy of: AP Photo
The wife of a human rights lawyer stands outside the Tianjin court in protest of her husband’s trial (2016). Photo courtesy of: AP Photo

Human rights organizations have paid particular attention to China in light of the state’s nationwide sweep of rights lawyers and advocates in the summer of 2015. Xie Yang, a Chinese lawyer who was interrogated by the Chinese government, recently spoke out about his abuse while detained. Mr. Yang is one of about 250 individuals detained by the government on charges of subverting the one-party state. Though most individuals were released, the government’s use of torture against them shows that international and domestic mechanisms for preventing torture have not worked.

In early 2017, the Chinese government also began to regulate the operation of Non-Governmental Organizations within its borders.  In order to continue their work within China, foreign NGO’s must find government sponsors, register with the local police, and meet other requirements like submitting annual finance reports.  Chinese president Xi Jinping claims such foreign entities are undermining China’s domestic interests.

Critics of the new legislation are concerned that the “Law on Management of Domestic Activities of Overseas Non-governmental Organizations” will hinder the efforts of nonprofits in fields such as human rights. Whether those concerns actually materialize remains to be seen.

For more information, please see:

Human Rights Watch – Deteriorating Outlook for Human Rights in SE Asia – 13 January, 2017

Human Rights Watch – World Report 2017 – 12 January, 2017

New York Times – Punches, Kicks, and the ‘Dangling Chair’: Detainee Tells of Torture in China – 20 January 2017

Quartz – NGOs are under threat in China’s latest crackdown against “foreign forces” – 4 January, 2017

Hong Kong Free Press – Torture accusations as EU ambassador raises case of Chinese lawyer Xie Yang – 25 January, 2017 


Iraqi Prime Minister Orders Investigation into Alleged Human Rights Violations

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq — On January 23rd, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Haider al-Abadi, ordered an investigation into human rights violations allegedly committed by government troops and a Shia paramilitary group.

Iraqi forces are being accused of torturing and killing civilians following a video that surfaced on social media (Photo courtesy of Washington Post)

The allegations include claims of kidnapping and civilian abuse as the troops attempt to retake Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS). The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq demanded a governmental inquiry from Iraq when a video surfaced on social media allegedly showing “brutal treatment” and the murdering of at least three ISIS members. The video, which is almost three minutes in length, showed several members of the Iraqi security forces wearing army and police uniforms. The video then contains graphic recordings of the individuals “dragging and beating [] suspects in a residential area before showering them with bullets.”

Two days later, Mr. al-Abadi’s office issued a statement saying that he had “ordered to form a committee to investigate cases of kidnappings, mistreatment and violations . . . against civilians by groups exploiting the name of the security forces and Shia paramilitary units.” Mr. al-Abadi subsequently indicated that he had instructed field commanders to ensure that the laws of armed conflict were followed to prevent human rights violations from being committed under the guise of war operations. He further stated that cases of abuse had been recorded and later uploaded to social media to “spoil the joy of victory[,] defame the real image of the brave security forces and their sacrifices to liberate the land[,] and [] maintain security.”

On January 5th, Amnesty International had issued a statement indicating that Iraq’s “Popular Mobilization Units” (PMU) had been “engaged in a systematic pattern of violations, including enforced disappearances, torture and unlawful killings targeting the Sunni community.” Formed in 2014 to join in on the war against ISIS, PMU is a coalition made up of mostly Iranian-trained Shia groups. The coalition was officially merged with the Iraqi armed forces in 2016.

In January 2016, Human Rights Watch had issued a statement in which it “accused Shia militias of abducting and killing [scores] of Sunni civilians in central Iraq.” The rights group had later called upon the Iraqi government to prevent Shia militias from joining the Mosul operation due to concerns of severe human rights violations.

For more information, please see:

Middle East Eye—Iraq PM orders investigation into abuses reported in Mosul battle—23 January 2017

Washington Post—Iraq premier orders probe into violations by troops in Mosul–23 January 2017

Business Standard—Iraqi PM orders probe into abuses by troops in Mosul—23 January 2017

Kurdistan24—Iraqi PM orders investigation of alleged abuses by Iraqi troops in Mosul—24 January 2017

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Statement on United States President Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” of Refugees

Statement on United States President Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” of Refugees

Yesterday, 27 January, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning all refugees, migrants and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries – Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The ban is grievously discriminatory, effectively targeting and blocking lawful entry into the United States to people on the basis of religion, a practice that is explicitly outlawed in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. It is also a direct violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which states that parties shall accept refugees “without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin,” and the 1967 Protocol, of which the United States is a signatory.
At a time when more than 65 million people around the world are displaced by persecution, conflict and mass atrocities, the ban is an affront to the moral principles that the United States has carved in stone on its national monuments. For generations, refugees and asylum seekers have found refuge from persecution in the United States. Yesterday’s executive order is a repudiation of that proud tradition. The ban especially targets 4.8 million Syrian refugees, who represent one of the most vulnerable populations on earth, denying them any possibility of entering the United States.
For more than five years the people of Syria have suffered war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Syrian government, and enabled by their Russian and Iranian allies. Syrian civilians have also faced beheading, execution and even crucifixion by armed extremist groups like Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and the so-called Islamic State. These crimes under international law have been widely documented by the UN’s independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria. The United States has a responsibility to protect the men, women and children who have fled these atrocities, not to scapegoat, arbitrarily block and illegally bar them from its shores.
The fact that President Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” was promulgated on International Holocaust Remembrance Day is especially egregious. The Nazi’s mass murder of 6 million Jews, along with Roma and other targeted victims, was the moral nadir of the twentieth century. In remembering the Holocaust we not only acknowledge its specific origins in murderous anti-Semitism, but also that it was a product of discriminatory laws and exclusionary policies. The fact that so many Jewish victims of the Holocaust were refused asylum in the United States and other countries during the 1930s is a source of enduring shame.
Seventy-two years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the Holocaust continues to provide essential lessons regarding human rights and practices that violate human dignity. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect will continue working with our civil society colleagues in the United States and raise this issue at the United Nations and beyond, until such time as President Trump’s shameful and illegal ban on Muslims is repudiated and rescinded.