Zambia has a reputation as a stable democracy due to successful successions of power and a prior history of a respectable human rights record. However, since the election to the presidency in 2011 of Michael Sata, an increasingly troubling pattern of repression of political opponents, civil society, independent media and disenfranchised members of the population has emerged.
Multiple political opposition party members have been arrested on pre-textual charges, such as defamation of the president or holding an illegal gathering, for their campaign activities. Political rallies have been blocked by riot police, youth meetings banned, and allegations of corruption occur with increasing regularity. It is to be noted some these actions also occurred under prior administrations; however it does not excuse the continuance, severity or frequency with which this oppression occurs. Freedom of the press is also a recurring concern in Zambia, often in conjunction with political oppression. From censorship of publications to allegations of the physical harassment of journalists, protecting the free flow of information in Zambia remains a top priority.
Zambia is further increasingly intolerant of its homosexual population. In May 2013, police arrested Phil Mubiana and James Mwansa for alleged same-sex conduct, illegal in Zambia. They were subjected to anal examination without consent and forced to make confessions to speed up the trial. This follows an increasing pattern of hate speech towards members of the LGBTQ community by government officials and within state controlled media. Amnesty International is concerned about the safety of those arrested, as well as the LGBTQ community within Zambia as a whole.
Direct foreign investment in Zambia's burgeoning natural resource and consumer markets allow ample space for corporate abuse of individual rights in the areas of labor and consumer protection and an exploitation of the lagging regulatory framework in the country.