The Government of the United States has said that is disappointed by the decision of the Government of the Republic of Zambia to appeal the case of Paul Kasonkomona for allegedly “soliciting for immoral purpose.”
In a statement released to the media today, the US Government urged the Government to drop its appeal case as the Zambian constitution guaranteed the freedom of expression.
Last month Magistrate Lameck Ng’ambi acquitted a human rights activist on charges of promoting homosexuality. Paul Kasonkomona was charged with “soliciting for immoral purposes” after arguing for gay rights on a MUVI TV in April 2013.
Magistrate Lameck found that the state had failed to prove its case.
Mr Kasonkomona told AFP his acquittal was a “landmark judgement” and vowed to keep to speak out “for the rights of all Zambians”.
Below is the full statement
EMBASSY OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Janet Deutsch
March 6, 2014 Public Affairs Officer
United States Urges Dropping of Appeal Against Paul Kasonkomona
Lusaka – The Government of the United States is disappointed by the decision of the Government of the Republic of Zambia to appeal the case of Paul Kasonkomona for allegedly “soliciting for immoral purpose.” When acquitting Mr. Kasonkomona, Magistrate Lameck Ng’ambi issued an eloquent statement about the importance of free speech in a democracy. The Zambian constitution also guarantees this fundamental right.
We urge the Zambian Government to drop its appeal in this case. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right to be respected and embraced.
The U.S. Department of State on February 27, 2014 released the 2013 Human Rights Report on Zambia and other countries around the world. This report details further restrictions on the freedom of speech and other human rights concerns. The report can be found online at: www.HumanRights.gov.