THE Human Rights Commission (HRC) says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s freedom of movement was deprived when he was restricted from travelling to the Copperbelt last Thursday.

Last week, authorities at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) stopped Hichilema from travelling to the Copperbelt Province to attend the burial service of party Copperbelt youth chairman Ronald Bwalya Manenga.

Police even went to the extent of sealing off Kalulushi airstrip in Kitwe District where Hichilema scheduled to land from.

Hichilema was earlier cleared by airport staff to travel to the Copperbelt, but was abruptly stopped, Thursday morning, as he attempted to board a flight enroute to Ndola.

Responding to a press query, HRC chairperson Mudford Mwandenga announced that the Commission was probing the incident.

“Freedom of movement is protected under the Zambian Constitution. Under the Constitution, freedom of movement simply means the right to move freely throughout Zambia; the right to reside in any part of Zambia; and the right to leave Zambia and to return to Zambia. A citizen of Zambia cannot be and should not be deprived of this freedom of movement, except as provided for in the Constitution and in any other written law,” Mwandenga stated.

“In this regard, the law must be one that inter alia provides for the imposition of restrictions that are reasonably required in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health and that restriction must be justifiable in a democratic society. If the restriction that was imposed on Mr Hakainde Hichilema did not and does not meet the above threshold, then he was unjustifiably deprived of his constitutionally-protected freedom of movement. Note that the Zambia Human Rights Commission on its own accord is probing this issue.”

And Mwandenga stressed that the Public Order Act did not restrict anyone to be in the same area with the Republican President.

“As to your query whether the Public Order Act ‘restricts one to be in the same area with the President,’ my response would be that it does not. The Public Order Act is an Act inter alia to make provision for the preservation of public order and not a license for the violation of the freedom of movement and/or indeed the right to assemble of Zambians. The Zambia Human Rights Commission has always maintained the position that the constitutional rights of Zambian citizens must be promoted and protected at all times by all and sundry, including the State and its agencies. In this regard, the Public Order Act must be implemented in the manner that levels the political space for all political actors and the Zambian citizens,” stated Mwandenga.