The Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR) condemns the recent actions by Zambian Police to attempt to disrupt court proceedings and arrest opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.
“Such a bold move by the police is without foundation in law and seeks to send a message to any member of the judiciary dealing with politically sensitive cases,” said Robert Amsterdam, international counsel to the CDDR. “Zambians are being deprived of an independent judiciary and rule of law when the police behave as though they are the armed wing of the Patriotic Front.”
On January 15th, 2013, Mr. Hichilema of the opposition United Party for National Development attended a court hearing regarding a politically motivated charge of “publication of false news” for statements he made last summer regarding the Patriotic Front’s agreement with the ruling party of Sudan. When Magistrate Joshua Banda temporarily stood the matter down, the police interjected before the court to demand the arrest of Mr. Hichilema for questioning, representing a serious breach of legal protocol.
“It is clear that the current government holds itself above the law when the Justice Minister bullies and threatens the ACC, when opposition leaders face multiple arrests for no reason every week, and when alleged corruption goes unpunished among prominent officials,” said Amsterdam. “The CDDR calls upon civil society groups and rule of law advocates to unite together and present these grievances before prominent international bodies to demand a return to due process and a constitutional separation of powers.”