A Zambian man convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl has been made ambassador in the fight against gender violence.
Musician Clifford Dimba, known as General Kanene, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the rape in 2014.
But after serving just one year of his sentence he was pardoned by Zambia’s President Lungu and appointed the country’s ambassador against gender violence.
Since his jail release, he has also allegedly been involved in two other incidents of violence against women.
Clifford Dimba in a music video on YouTube created when he was in prison
UN human rights experts are now calling for the Zambian Government to prove its commitment to tackle gender-based violence by stripping Dimba of his title.
“Such an outrageous release and appointment as an ambassador for the fight against gender-based violence not only traumatises the victim all over again but discourages other victims from reporting similar offences,” said Dubravka Šimonović, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women.
“The pardon and appointment undermine the strong message against sexual abuse of women and girls that was sent with the original sentence and trivialise the serious nature of these offences. Rather, Clifford Dimba has been placed in a prominent position and even portrayed as a role model to fight violence against women.”
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, added:
“It constitutes an utter disrespect for women and girls in Zambia who might rightly feel that their Government is not protecting them. The pardon has meant impunity for an abhorrent crime and his subsequent appointment as ambassador for the fight against such violence is more than cynical and adds insult to injury for the victim.”
The experts highlighted that the granting of Dimba’s pardon is incompatible with Zambia’s international human rights obligations, and the President’s role as a champion in the UN Women’s campaign He for She.
They are now calling on the country to revoke his pardon and ensure other people convicted of sexual violence are not pardoned.