The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has called for absolute restraint from any form of extra-judicial action against Political Commentator Chilufya Tayali during future court sessions, saying such action are against the rule of law.
Tayali was exposed to physical harassment, Wednesday, by suspected UPND cadres on his way to answer to criminal charges after being sued by UPND president Hakainde Hichilema.
HRC spokesperson Mweelya Muleya condemned the harassment of Tayali adding that perpetrators of violence exhibited some level of intolerance and lacked self-restraint as expected in a multi-party democracy.
“The Human Rights Commission (HRC) condemns the harassment of Economic and Equity Party (EEP) president, Mr. Chilufya Tayali, by some suspected United Party for National Development (UPND) sympathisers at the Lusaka Magistrates Court Premises where he had gone for a Court Session on 17th October 2018. However, the Commission hasten to salute the Zambia Police Service for their alertness and quick protection of Mr. Tayali from further punishment by guaranteeing him his right to personal security. The harassment and roughing up of Mr. Tayali within the court premises, which resulted in tearing up of his jacket, was deeply regrettable and must be condemned as an act of lawlessness that should not be allowed in a democratic country such as Zambia.Mr. Tayali had been sued by the UPND President, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, for alleged criminal defamation and he had lawfully gone to answer to the charges as directed by the court. It was therefore regrettable that he was almost physically manhandled, and his clothes torn before the Police rescued him,” he said.
“After speaking to some of the eye witnesses, including some UPND sympathisers and Mr. Tayali himself as a victim, the Commission is of the view that the perpetrators of violence against Mr. Tayali exhibited some level of intolerance and lacked self-restraint as expected in a multi-party democracy. The Commission is therefore calling upon all those who may be aggrieved by the alleged utterances and actions of Mr. Tayali to refrain from taking the law into their own hands but exercise patience and allow the law to take its own course. Suing the EEP President was one of the civilised forms of redressing grievances in a democracy. To this effect, it is important to allow justice to take its course uninterrupted by any form of human rights violation such as physical, psychological or verbal abuse of either parties and/or their agents or witnesses.”
He said the violence against Tayali has potential to undermine a conducive environment for protection of human rights and freedoms.
“Mr. Tayali, like any other individual, has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law through the courts of the law. Therefore, those aggrieved by either his utterances or action should not take any slightest opportunity to arbitrarily punish him because that would be a violation of his constitutional rights. The Commission, therefore, calls for absolute restraint from any form of extra-judicial action against Mr. Tayali during future court sessions because such action would be incompatible with respect for the rule of law, human rights and constitutionalism. The Commission is against any form of breach of law and order such as violence because it has potential to undermine a conducive environment for protection of human rights and freedoms.”