The Non Governmental Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has condemned in the strongest terms the detention of the over 40 youths by the Zambia Police on Wednesday, March 12 and the subsequent stripping of young girls of their T – Shirts during the Youth Day celebrations, for merely demanding the immediate release of the final draft constitution.
NGOO chairperson Beatrice Grillo said NGOCC is deeply concerned with the increased levels of intolerance of divergent views and attempts by the Party in Government to stifle fundamental rights of expression and assembly as enshrined in the Republican constitution.
‘The detention and stripping of the youths on Youth Day is not only barbaric but rather undemocratic and an assault on our hard earned democracy. The stripping was at most against the fundamental human rights of the young girls and boys,’ she said a statement.
Grillo said the youths who were detained for wearing T-Shirts with messages demanding the release of the constitution had and have every right to protest and demand for the immediate release of the final draft constitution.
She said it is totally unacceptable for the Patriotic Front (PF) Government to now resort to using state agencies to intimidate citizens from demanding that which is rightly theirs.
‘We urge all Zambians not to be intimidated in their quest for a new people driven constitution,’ said Grillo.
The NGOCC chairperson explained that constitution belongs to the Zambian people and the PF Government will not succeed in intimidating citizens on their demands for the constitution.
‘The correct thing for the PF Government to do is to immediately give the Zambian people what is due to them – a people driven constitution. We urge the police to remain professional and desist from being used’, she said.
With regards to the stripping of the young girls, NGOCC requests the Inspector General of Police Ms Stella Libongani to immediately institute investigations so that the officers who assaulted the young girls can be brought to book.
‘As a woman herself, we believe that Ms Libongani will not preside over a police service which abuses the rights of girls and women. NGOCC will in the meantime, conduct its own investigations to get to the bottom of the stripping of the young girls.
‘It is becoming abundantly clear that the PF is determined to deny the people of Zambia a people driven constitution.
We would like to assure the PF however that no amount of intimidation or propaganda will stop the Zambian people from demanding a new constitution,’ she said.