Power and Politics

Coalition of civil societies accuse police of human rights violations in protest crackdown


A consortium of nine Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has accused the police of violating human rights by arresting people who were peacefully exercising their right to protest.

Josiah Kalala, Acting Executive Director for Chapter One Foundation, condemned the arrests on behalf of the CSOs.

In a joint statement issued in Lusaka on Wednesday, Kalala emphasized that peaceful protests were a vital form of citizen participation in national affairs.

Kalala asserted that protests should only be curtailed when there was a clear and present danger of harm or a violation of the law.

“The detention of people peacefully exercising their right to protest is a blatant violation of these rights and a step backward for democracy and civic participation in Zambia,” Kalala said.

He added that suppressing peaceful dissent undermined the principles of a democratic society and erodes public trust in the government.

“We further strongly condemn the police for failing to respect the freedom of conscience as provided in the Constitution,” Kalala stated.

Read More: Police arrest four over planned loadshedding protests in Lusaka, as vehicle runs over one-year-old

He cited an incident where a Muslim protester had her hijab removed by police officers during her detention and arrest, calling it a violation of her religious beliefs and the freedom of conscience under the Constitution.

“Law enforcement must respect various religious beliefs and accommodate them in the criminal process,” he advised.

Kalala called on the government to adhere to its human rights obligations and take immediate steps to ensure that all citizens can fully enjoy their rights without fear of detention or intimidation.

The CSOs involved are the Alliance for Community Action, Transparency International Zambia, the Non-Governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC), PANOS Institute for Southern Africa, Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Peoples Action for Accountability and Good Governance in Zambia (PAAGGZ), the Centre for Trade and Policy Development (CTPD), the Alliance for Accountability Advocates Zambia (AAAZ) and Chapter One Foundation.

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