Hold PF cadres to account for disorderly conduct – HRC
By John Mumanga
THE Human Rights Commission has called upon the Zambia Police Service to investigate and expose the group behind intimidation of LAZ and hold them to account for disorderly conduct, threatening violence and breach of peace, law and order.
In a statement yesterday following PF cadres protest against Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Linda Kasonde on Friday, Human Rights Commission chief information officer Mwelwa Muleya stated that the commission was deeply concerned at the intimidation by the clandestine group.
“The Human Rights Commission wishes to strongly condemn the intimidation of the Law Association of Zambia from carrying out its statutory functions by a clandestine group that went to protest at the legal fraternity body’s offices in Lusaka while wielding offensive weapons on Friday 3rd March 2017,” Muleya stated.
“The Commission wishes to acknowledge the fact that there is nothing wrong per se in a democracy such as Zambia for individuals or organisations to protest against any institution or action as a way of expressing disapproval or dissatisfaction. However, what is wrong in the case of the protest against LAZ is that the protestors decided to remain anonymous and clearly breached the Public Order Act that regulates the right to freedom of public assembly, meetings or processions as the conveners are believed not to have notified the Zambia Police Service about their public activity.”
He stated that Zambia was a democracy where rights and freedoms of individuals and associations to legally express themselves on matters of public interest should be promoted and protected.
Muleya stated that the fact that the group that protested at LAZ offices decided to remain anonymous was demonstration that its motives were illegitimate, illegal and a gross violation of the democratic principles and order.
“LAZ has an impeachable record of immense positive contributions to the democratic governance of this country and to the promotion and protection of the rule of law and individual liberties in accordance with its legal mandate,” Muleya stated.
“If anyone has any grievance with the operations of LAZ or indeed with any other institution, they should do so in a democratic, lawful and open manner as a matter of their democratic right unlike the undercover operation conducted at LAZ secretariat.”
He stated that it was clear that the group deliberately planned to employ a terrorist method of engaging LAZ to psychologically intimidate the legal fraternity body from carrying out its statutory functions in a professional manner to suit sectional interests which the secretive group, but widely believed to be political cadres, seemed to be representing.
“There is need for public concern because if such impunity is allowed, there is real danger that such shadowy activities may degenerate into widespread terrorism against individuals, associations and institutions holding and expressing dissenting or divergent views from the interests of such groupings,” Muleya stated.
“The Human Rights Commission is calling upon the Zambia Police Service to investigate and expose the group behind the intimidation of LAZ and hold the perpetrators to account for disorderly conduct, threatening violence and breach of peace, law and order.”
He stated that the government should also come out in the open and not only condemn but take action against such activities which were giving an impression of systematic repression of individuals and institutions holding and expressing dissenting or divergent views.
“This is not good for the country which has over the years largely remained a beacon of hope for democratic governance on the African continent,” stated Muleya, adding that LAZ was one of the established and reputable institutions of good governance in Zambia and its professional and independent operations must be promoted and protected by the state as a matter of national interest and a demonstration of commitment to continued protection of constitutional democracy.