Address critical issues before removing RB’s immunity-LAZ

PRESS RELEASE 

The Law Association of Zambia has been inundated with calls by various stakeholders to comment on the topical issue of Lifting of the Former Republican President Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda’s  immunity. It is our considered view that lifting the immunity of the former Republican President Rupiah Banda now will be premature and risks being an academic exercise if critical issues are not addressed first. We agree with the position that a proper case has to be presented to the National Assembly for the MP’s to seriously consider this issue.

It is established by the Republican Constitution (Article 43[3]) and the Courts of Law that the National Assembly can lift the immunity of a former head of state if it has before it allegations showing prima facie criminal conduct and that to remove such immunity would not be contrary to the interests of the state. Therefore, it is not only evidence of criminal conduct which is to be considered. The Parliamentarians must address their minds to the question whether removing the immunity of the head of state is not contrary to the interests of the state.

We must state here that immunity as provided by the Constitution is obviously against prosecution and not investigation. Once credible investigations are carried out and it emerges that there is prima facie evidence of wrong doing then at that point Parliament may be moved on a motion for the lifting of the immunity. However, the former head of state enjoys all constitutional rights and liberties of any person suspected to have committed a crime. Accordingly any advice rendered by his lawyers including not attending interviews (notwithstanding Section 49 [1] of the Anti-Corruption Act which gives power to the ACC to summon people for interviews) should not in any way suggest that the former head of state is guilty. Each person has a right to a lawyer’s advice and is entitled to a presumption of innocence

Further, the issue of the lifting of immunity of a former head of state is not without precedent in Zambia. The late President Dr F.J.T. Chiluba’s immunity was removed and what was hoped to be achieved was not achieved.

Following the acquittal of the late President uproar was raised against the Judgment and it was a strong feeling amongst many stakeholders that the Justice system was interfered with. The Law Association raised concern with the Judgment as well and we were clear that it was faulty and needed to be appealed against. That was never done.

This precedent and experience this country has gone through should help us not make a similar mistake

In this regard pertinent questions to ask before considering the removal of the immunity of the former head of state are:

  1. Have the problems identified in the justice system been rectified?
  2. Do our investigation and prosecution systems enjoy independence and credibility?

In our view, before the above issues/questions are addressed this process (removing President Rupiah Banda’s immunity) will be mired in controversy and the whole process, which might earn kudos for certain sectors of our political system, risks achieving nothing.

 

JAMES BANDA

PRESIDENT

The Law Association of Zambia has been inundated with calls by various stakeholders to comment on the topical issue of Lifting of the Former Republican President Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda’s  immunity. It is our considered view that lifting the immunity of the former Republican President Rupiah Banda now will be premature and risks being an academic exercise if critical issues are not addressed first. We agree with the position that a proper case has to be presented to the National Assembly for the MP’s to seriously consider this issue.

It is established by the Republican Constitution (Article 43[3]) and the Courts of Law that the National Assembly can lift the immunity of a former head of state if it has before it allegations showing prima facie criminal conduct and that to remove such immunity would not be contrary to the interests of the state. Therefore, it is not only evidence of criminal conduct which is to be considered. The Parliamentarians must address their minds to the question whether removing the immunity of the head of state is not contrary to the interests of the state.

We must state here that immunity as provided by the Constitution is obviously against prosecution and not investigation. Once credible investigations are carried out and it emerges that there is prima facie evidence of wrong doing then at that point Parliament may be moved on a motion for the lifting of the immunity. However, the former head of state enjoys all constitutional rights and liberties of any person suspected to have committed a crime. Accordingly any advice rendered by his lawyers including not attending interviews (notwithstanding Section 49 [1] of the Anti-Corruption Act which gives power to the ACC to summon people for interviews) should not in any way suggest that the former head of state is guilty. Each person has a right to a lawyer’s advice and is entitled to a presumption of innocence

Further, the issue of the lifting of immunity of a former head of state is not without precedent in Zambia. The late President Dr F.J.T. Chiluba’s immunity was removed and what was hoped to be achieved was not achieved.

Following the acquittal of the late President uproar was raised against the Judgment and it was a strong feeling amongst many stakeholders that the Justice system was interfered with. The Law Association raised concern with the Judgment as well and we were clear that it was faulty and needed to be appealed against. That was never done.

This precedent and experience this country has gone through should help us not make a similar mistake

In this regard pertinent questions to ask before considering the removal of the immunity of the former head of state are:

  1. Have the problems identified in the justice system been rectified?
  2. Do our investigation and prosecution systems enjoy independence and credibility?

In our view, before the above issues/questions are addressed this process (removing President Rupiah Banda’s immunity) will be mired in controversy and the whole process, which might earn kudos for certain sectors of our political system, risks achieving nothing.

 

JAMES BANDA

PRESIDENT

Categorized | Uncategorized

Comments are closed.

Our Sponsor

Jevic Japanese Auto Inspections

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.