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HRC salutes IG for allowing by-election campaignsBy Mirriam Chabala on 6 Aug 2017
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has asked the Police to deal with individuals abusing the Public Order Act by threatening politicians wishing to campaign for the upcoming by-elections in some parts of the country.
In a statement today, HRC Spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya welcomed the Inspector General’s directive that police officers should allow political parties to campaign freely and called on the officers not to apply the law selectively.
“HRC wishes to welcome the directive by the Inspector General of Police, Mr Kakoma Kanganja, to officers to allow political parties to freely campaign during the forth coming by elections in some parts of the country. HRC also welcomes the advice by the Inspector General of Police to political parties and the Police to adhere to the provisions of the Public Order Act (POA). It is important for both the Zambia Police Service and participating parties to operate within the provisions of the law in order to protect human rights and freedoms as well as maintain peace, law and order,” Muleya stated.
“HRC is looking forward to an impartial administration of the Public Order Act so that it serves the fundamental purpose of regulating and not stifling the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The Commission therefore hopes that the advice and warning by the Inspector General of Police against violating the Public Order Act will be understood to include those in the habit of threatening to disrupt public meetings of their opponents. Such individuals should be equally publicly warned that they shall be dealt with for threatening breach of peace, law and order.”
Muleya noted that the police had an obligation to protect Public Assemblies and Meetings from disruption and urged them not to resort to cancellation of such meetings each time lawless individuals threatened violence.
“The police have an obligation to protect Public Assemblies and Meetings from disruption by anyone. Therefore, they should not only be seen to be resorting to canceling public meetings whenever lawless individuals threatened violence against law abiding individuals who may have duly abided by the provisions of the Public Order Act. Therefore, HRC expects the police to stop threatening those wishing to hold public meetings from going ahead after being threatened by their opponents. The police should instead use their intelligence information to protect such meetings and warn those plotting to cause confusion,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Muleya appealed to the politicians to heed to the IG’s advice and cooperate in order to maintain peace, law and order, particularly during public meetings such as election campaigns.
“On the other hand, HRC wishes to appeal to political parties to heed to the Inspector General of Police advice. Political Parties have a responsibility to maintain peace, law and order, particularly during public meetings such as election campaigns. It should be appreciated that public security and order are necessary for the exercise of rights and freedoms,” stated Muleya.
“It is therefore important that the police and political parties must cooperate in order to achieve each other’s legitimate ends, which are to maintain law and order and to freely and democratically participate in the governance of this country in line with the constitution and other regional and international human rights laws. The HRC will continue to engage both the Zambia Police Service and political parties in the quest to promote and protect the right to freedom of Assembly within the limits of the constitution and international human rights instruments.”
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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