The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has called on government to expeditiously review and repeal all laws that are not consistent with democratic values and principles.
Commission Chairperson, Pamela Sambo said this would introduce a sustainable mechanism for addressing most of the frequent human rights violations that the Commission continues to witness.
Sambo made the call in a statement issued in Lusaka on Thursday in view of the International Day of Democracy which falls on September 15 of every year to review the state of democracy globally.
“In particular, the Commission calls upon the government to table the Public Gathering Bill, which is meant to replace the Public Order Act during the forthcoming parliamentary session,” she said.
Sambo said the current Public Order Act, which was first enacted in 1955, was inconsistent with tenets of democracy and its continued discriminatory application remained a vivid blemish on the country’s democratic credentials.
She said it must be recalled that Zambia had a head start and was heralded as a pioneer of the democratisation process in Sub-Saharan Africa when the country re-introduced multiparty democracy in 1991.
Sambo said this was long before the United Nations General Assembly declared September 15 as the International Day of Democracy in 2007.
“Over the years, there have been notable blossoming features of democracy such as the existence of several functioning political parties, civil society organisations, an independent and pluralistic media industry,” she said.
Sambo said this had been supported with the holding of regular, free and fair elections which have resulted into peaceful transfer of political power based on the free will of the electorate.
She said various notable legal and institutional reforms have been effected over the years, particularly relating to justice delivery institutions.
“These include decentralisation of such institutions to facilitate avenues for broad-based participation of the majority citizenry in national affairs,” Sambo said.
She said in recent times, the country had seen tangible renewed efforts towards the promotion of Economic, Social and cultural Rights such as free education, some employment opportunities and enhanced social protection.
Sambo said this must be commended because the promotion of such rights was both a necessary condition for and desirable fruit of a functioning democracy.
“Notwithstanding these notable positive strives the country has made over the past 32 years towards consolidating democracy, achievements in fundamental democratic legal reforms have been inadequate and much more needs to be done in order to enhance democracy,” she said.
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