FIVE Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have asked the Lusaka High Court to grant them a conservatory order preventing the prosecution of people under the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act pending determination of their petition.
The NGOs have submitted that there is a risk of Zambians being unjustly and illegally deprived of their rights if the provisions of Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act are enforced before the court makes a decision.
In this matter, the five NGOs have petitioned the Lusaka High Court for a declaration that various provisions of the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act were unconstitutional and needed to be struck off from the statute books.
The five NGOs who cited the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as respondents, argued that sections 11, 12, 29, 38, 40, 54, 59, 65, 69, 72 and 74 of the Act severely threaten the right to privacy, the freedom of expression, the right to freely impart and receive information, the freedom of conscience, the freedom of the media and the right to a fair trial.
The NGOs include; Chapter One Foundation Limited; Bloggers of Zambia Limited; Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative; People’s Action for Accountability and Good Governance in Zambia; and Alliance for Community Action.
The petitioners want the court to make a declaration that sections 1 1, 12, 29, 38, 40, 54, 59, 65, 69, 72 and 74 of the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act are unconstitutional and should be struck off from the statute books.
They also want the court to make an order that each party bears their own costs.
The NGOs have now applied for a conservatory order preventing the prosecution of people under the Act pending determination of their petition.
According to an affidavit in support of summons for conservatory order, Bloggers of Zambia Limited executive director Richard Mulonga and People’s Action for Accountability and Good Governance in Zambia director Fumba Chama commonly known as Pilato, submitted that after being assented into law, the said provisions of the act have the full force of law and citizens may be enforced.
They stated that there was nothing currently preventing the DPP from instituting prosecution pursuant to the provisions of the act which are the subject of their petition.
“We verily believe that there is a risk that if these provisions are enforced before this honourable court makes a decision on their constitutionality, Zambian citizens will be unjustly and illegally deprived of their rights contrary to the public interest. There is need to preserve the status quo and prevent any prosecutions under the Act prior to the determination of this matter,” the duo stated.