The Human Rights Commission welcomes the announcement by the Government that Cabinet had in principle approved the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Public Order Act, Chapter 113 of the laws of Zambia (POA).
The Commission notes that having the POA amended to improve its administration by the Zambia Police Service and subsequently enhance the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of assembly is an integral part of an inclusive democratic system of governance, respect for human rights, rule of law and constitutionalism in Zambia.
The Commission also notes with regret that successive Governments have on numerous occasions expressed the desire and commitment to amending the POA, but there has been no significant progress achieved so far towards meeting that noble objective aimed at ensuring the enjoyment of freedom of assembly is enhanced.
Since the process to enact the Public Order Bill No.12 of 2019 into law failed in 2021, the nation has been anxiously waiting to see the Government table in Parliament a Bill for amendment of the POA.
The Commission hopes that the Bill to amend the POA will be tabled in Parliament as soon as possible because the current Act and its selective application have not been in the interest of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights.
In amending the POA, the Government will also be fulfilling its commitment to implementing one of the 183 recommendations which it accepted during Zambia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of her human rights record at the United Nations in Geneva in 2017.
[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambia [amendment] Act Number 2 of 2016 to ensure that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted].
Mr. Simon Mulumbi
Principal Information Officer