THE Human Rights Commission (HRC) has started monitoring the implementation of the Public Order Act to facilitate the promotion of the fundamental right to peaceful assembly by all stakeholders as the country prepares for this year’s general election.
HRC chief of information, education and training Mweelwa Muleya said the commission had set a website platform called Human Rights Map and website to enable stakeholders report cases of violations of the right of peaceful assembly with the hope of re-engaging relevant authorities to find an amicable solution.
He also said the website would encourage reporting of any cases of violation of freedom of peaceful assembly to the commission offices in Chipata, Kasama, Livingstone, Lusaka, Mongu and Ndola.
Mr Muleya also revealed that the commission intended to engage the Zambia Police command to appreciate the challenges they may be facing in administering the Public Order Act.
“The commission will particularly seek to collaborate with the Zambia Police in the orientation of officers in the administration of the Public Order Act as announced by the Inspector General of Police,” he said.
The approach was aimed at promoting a balance between maintaining law and order on one hand, and promoting and respecting fundamental human rights and freedom to peaceful assembly on the other side.
He added that the Government through the police had an obligation under the Zambian Constitution and the various international human rights instruments which it had ratified, to respect and protect human rights and freedoms such as the right to peaceful assembly and expression which were under increasing spotlight now as the country prepared for the elections.
“Freedom of assembly, which is enshrined under Zambia’s Bill of Rights, is fundamental human rights which is closely linked to freedoms of expression and association and must be protected, particularly in a democracy like Zambia, respect for these freedoms constitutes minimum international standards,” Mr Muleya said.
He also said the commission would therefore play a constitutional mandate, as provided for under Article 230 of the 1991 Zambian Constitution as amended by Act no. 2 of 2016, of ensuring that the Bill of Rights were upheld.