The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has urged people to take advantage of the on-going consultative meetings on the amendment of the Public Order Act (POA) and make submissions towards improving the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of assembly.
HRC Spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya said the Commission takes note that the amendment of the POA is one of the output indicators in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) aimed at promoting an inclusive and democratic system of governance.
Mr. Muleya noted that the Public Order Act is also one of the 183 recommendations which the Government accepted to implement during Zambia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of human rights record at the United Nations in Geneva in 2017.
Mr. Muleya said it is important that stakeholders turn up in large numbers during the on-going consultative meetings and make concrete recommendations on how the POA should contribute to improving the right to freedom of assembly and an inclusive democratic system of governance in Zambia.
He said the Commission has consistently observed with regret the selective and discriminatory manner the POA was being administered to the detriment of fostering the expression of divergent and dissenting opinions and ideas as expected in a pluralistic and multiparty democracy such as Zambia.
Mr. Muleya added that the commission is gratified that Government is beginning to take practical steps towards amending the provisions of the POA that are incompatible with its national and international human rights obligations.
“The right to freedom of assembly is a fundamental right and freedom enshrined in Zambia’s Bill of Rights and in the International Bill of Human Rights. To this effect, the POA should be designed and implemented in a manner that promotes and protects, rather than undermine, the right to freedom of assembly, association and expression,” he said.
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in conjunction with the Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC) is currently undertaking consultative meetings in Provincial Centers to facilitate public submissions on the proposed amendment of the Public Order Act.
This is contained in a statement availed to ZANIS in Ndola today.