Zambian women
Singer Clifford Dimba had served only one year of his 18-year jail term when he was pardoned by President Edgar Lungu (Representational Photo)Siphiwe SIibeko/Reuters

A UN human rights leader has urged the Zambian government to revoke the appointment of singer Clifford Dimba as the country's ambassador against sexual violence, saying it portrays the convicted rapist as a "role model". Dimba was found guilty of raping a minor girl and handed an 18-year jail term in 2014. However, Dimba had served only one year of his prison term when he was pardoned by President Edgar Lungu.

"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, the United Nations' 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," Šimonović said.

According to a UN report, after Dimba was released from prison he has been involved in two more incidents of violence against women. Still, chief government spokesman Chishimba Kambwili said Lungu's decision to release Dimba was justified by law.

"Our constitution provides that the president of Zambia can pardon criminals and order their release from prison. This is the prerogative of the president and no one can question him for exercising his rights as provided for in the constitution which he swore to protect," Kambwili told Anadolu Agency.

Kambwili said Dimba's release from prison was not politically motivated as he "was one among many other prisoners the president released pursuant to article 56 of the constitution of the Republic of Zambia".