14 March 2013, LONDON – Following news reports of Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party tabling a motion before parliament requesting the removal of immunity of former President Rupiah Banda, lawyer Robert Amsterdam has denounced the measure as a politically motivated desecration of the rule of law.
“By attempting to remove former President Banda’s immunity in the absence of any evidence, case, let alone any specific allegations of any wrongdoing, the PF government is attempting to subvert rule of law in order to remove any and all political competitors from the scene,” said Amsterdam. “They are behaving exactly in the manner that we predicted one year ago, beginning with the false accusations against his son which of course went nowhere, while destroying Zambia’s international reputation as a law-abiding democracy in the process.”
In response to this action, a case has been filed before the Lusaka High Court this afternoon. “Under normal constitutional precedent, the issue should now be tabled and not discussed tomorrow. Whether or not the Patriotic Front continues this unlawful process tomorrow or awaits the court order will speak volumes about their commitment to rule of law,” said Amsterdam.
“One cannot simply begin with the verdict and go backwards toward the case, evidence, and accusation, you have to do it the other way around,” said Amsterdam, “And the PF’s failure to follow normal procedure is a sign of their political motivation: this is not an exercise related to any real or imagined crime, but rather a hasty political ploy set in motion by a desperate party. But we should all ask: why the urgency? Why timed for the very last session of parliament? Why has the PF been rushing forward ever since President Michael Sata returned from his last trip abroad?”
“Joseph Stalin once said ‘show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime,’ but in the case of the PF’s attack against former President Banda, they haven’t even gotten that far,” said Amsterdam. “President Banda is a distinguished elder statesman who is celebrated internationally for his contributions to the peaceful, democratic development of Africa, and these false accusations by a discredited and abusive government shall not stand.”
Amsterdam indicates that the calls to remove former President Banda’s immunity only began following the submission of a report to the Commonwealth on behalf of the opposition and civil society, filed on January 25, 2013, requesting an investigation into rampant violations of civil and political rights by the PF government.
Former President Banda’s legal team intends to aggressively pursue all legal avenues to halt these false allegations and expose the unlawful conduct of the PF before the international community.