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Govt must assure us that we will meet our clients without being barred – British lawyerBy Mirriam Chabala on 14 Jan 2017
BRITISH lawyer Oliver Holland says he believes KCM was involved in his arrest and he needs an assurance from government that he will not be barred from meeting his clients in future.
On Thursday, January 12, 2017, Holland was arrested and held for four hours in Chingola after being charged with ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of peace’ for meeting his clients who filed complaints about alleged pollution from Konkola Copper Mines.
In a statement, the law firm which he represents, Leigh Day firm stated that Holland was in Zambia to meet communities who said KCM was damaging farmland and water sources.
Leigh Day also stated that Holland was held without charge for four hours and did not have access to a lawyer, food or water.
“Mr. Holland was meeting with Leigh Day’s clients in their communities to update them on the case when he was arrested for holding a public meeting. He was arrested under the Public Order Act…which states that holding a meeting of more than three people requires that a police permit must be obtained,” the law firm stated.
“This was an excessive response to the eventual charge of ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of peace’ which is a misdemeanour, not a criminal offence, which resulted in Mr. Holland paying a ZMK50 ($5) fine.”
Chingola police also confirmed that Holland had been arrested along with two local government officials.
But Holland said he wanted KCM to explain its involvement in his arrest.
“We will be writing immediately to KCM’s lawyers to obtain a full explanation as to their seeming involvement into my arrest. We will be seeking assurances both from the defendants and from the Zambian government that we will not be prevented from meeting our clients in the future,” said Holland.
“The ability for clients to meet with their lawyers is essential in their pursuit of justice and is a vital element of any fair and open society.”
Holland is a solicitor in the international and group claims department assisting Martyn Day primarily on group actions against British multinationals where environmental damage has occurred.
He is currently assisting Martyn Day on a claim on behalf of 1,800 Zambian farmers against Vedanta Resources and their Zambian subsidiary KCM for damage to land and their health allegedly as a result of the Defendant’s copper mining operations.
About Mirriam Chabala
Mirriam Chabala is a Zambian journalist who covers current affairs and writes in-depth feature articles on social issues.
Email: mirriam [at] diggers [dot] news
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