Various Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in partnership with the Norwegian Church Aid last week held an interactive forum aimed at discussing Zambia’s Roadmap to legal reforms.
The forum attracted stakeholders from the media, civil society and the law enforcement agencies among others.
Speaking at the forum, Human Rights Activist Chama Fumba alias Pilato said most of the law enforcers do not understand the laws that ought to be enforced.
Mr Fumba said that many times that he was arrested he did not break any law but that the police refused to accept the law.
“We live in a society where we have law enforcers who don’t know what laws to apply or enforce. Police officers are not aware of the law, they don’t care about the rights of poor people. They care more about the insecurities of those that command them,” said Mr. Fumba.
“Whenever we wanted to protest the police refused to accept the law, not that we broke the laws. It wasn’t about peace of poor people but those most powerful in political office. They told us they couldn’t police our protest. Instead of challenging those that wanted to beat us and disrupt our protest, they arrested us.”
Further, Caritas executive director Peter Mwanang’ombe said a lot had been done from the civil society and that CSOs had been pushing for recommendations regarding the Public Order Act, saying it limits citizens’ rights.
Mr. Mwanagombe said there are many concerns and restrictions and infringements of human rights, adding that the same Public Order Act has also been restricting political parties to host campaigns.
And GEARS executive director McDonald Chipenzi observed that the Public Order Act is still the same and it favours those that are in
power who do not care about its effects.
Mr. Chipenzi wondered why the POA has not been changed during the successive governments, insisting that the current Public Order Act would be repelled and replaced.
Meanwhile, Norwegian Church Aid Country Director Jonathan Lea- Howarth said his organisation is working with many faith-based organizations to bring people together in peace.
Mr. Lea-Howarth noted that the Public Order Act is not abused but serves its purpose that it was created for; thus to deter people from protesting and standing up against the colonisers.
He added that freedom of expression serves a lot of purpose like participating in Civic matters without hinderances from the government.
But assistant police commissioner Erick Sundandumuna disclosed that the duty of the police was to maintain law and order in the nation.
Mr. Sundandumuna advised citizens to follow and adhere to the dictates of the law and not find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
He dispelled assertions that the police are always dictated to by a heavy hand.