Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has condemned the action by the Zambia Police to block the UPND from holding a public rally in Kanyama Township despite the court having granted the party to go on and hold the rally.
This is according to a press statement signed by LAZ president James Banda
LAZ president James Banda said in a press statement today that On 9th September 2012 the Zambia Police Service deployed armed police officers to Kanyama to prevent the UPND from holding a public rally for which a Police permit had earlier been granted but was later withdrawn by the Police.
Mr Banda said it is public knowledge that in a bid to proceed with the Rally, UPND had recourse to the High Court for Zambia and were granted an Order directing that they should proceed with the planned Rally.
He said unfortunately, the Police in their acts of intolerance and in clear breach of the law elected to block the holding of this Rally by UPND notwithstanding the UPND availing them the Order
“On the basis of the foregoing, LAZ strongly condemns the acts of police arbitrariness and disregard of legality exhibited in Kanyama and now calls upon the Executive to ensure that the Institutions through which it has been elected to preside over national governance, operate in the most professional and generally acceptable standards of public expectations.
“It is our expectation that the Executive will not bless the actions of the Police by keeping the Senior Officers who disobeyed a Court Order and brought shame on the Zambia Police Service and indeed on the Executive as a whole,” Mr Banda said.
Mr Banda said LAZ is deeply concerned that such acts of intolerance, and similar documented actions of arbitrariness on the part of the Police, about which LAZ has commented in the recent past, have continued unabated by the Government.
Mr Banda said one cannot help but conclude that these actions on the part of the Police are undertaken with instructions of the Executive.
“This is particularly so because, while other organizations have made strong comments on such police actions in the past, the Executive has always remained mute in the face of glaring lack of professionalism exhibited by the Police.
“LAZ wishes to remind all stakeholders in the governance of our Country, including and particularly, the Executive that the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of association are inalienable and sacrosanct and that the same are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights as by the Constitution established,” he said.
He said no person or government authority has the right to violate these constitutional rights of citizens, unless under compelling and clearly deserving circumstances.
Mr Banda said the position of LAZ is that the reported reasons advanced by the Police that there would be no manpower to police the Rally cannot without violation of language be considered good enough to stop a political party from holding a political rally.
“Strikingly the same police who cited lack of manpower as the reason for cancellation managed to deploy officers to prevent the holding of the rally.
“The public may wish to be reminded that when a similar reason was advanced by Police to deny citizens the right to hold a rally, the late Mr Justice Peter Chitengi passed a High Court judgment which was well reasoned and which placed the law on police permits in its clear perspective,” he said.
Mr Banda said what is of additional concern to LAZ is the fact that in its quest to block this planned rally, the Police were prepared to pour scorn on and frown in the face of a validly obtained Court order giving the UPND permission to go ahead with the Rally.
Mr Banda said LAZ was giving a timely reminder to the Government, through the instrumentality of the Zambia Police Service, and to the citizenry in general that in a democratic dispensation such as the one Zambia ushered in 1991, all were called upon to the legal duty to respect and implement decisions of the Courts established to preside over the laws.
“This is the hallmark of the rule of law and actions to the contrary are a rich recipe for unbridled anarchy, injustice and the break down in the rule of law because such actions greatly undermine the very laws which Courts were established to foster and implement,” he said.