THE ARRESTS OF PEACEFUL PROTESTORS AT ZESCO HEAD OFFICE AGAINST LOADSHEDDING GRIEVANCES IS HIGHLY CONDEMNED AND AN ABROGATION OF CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED HUMAN RIGHTS

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By Lusaka Lawyer, Celestine Mambula Mukandila

“The arrest of protesters from the Protest Movement who were planning a demonstration against load shedding raises concerns about the freedom of assembly and expression in Zambia. It’s important to ensure that peaceful protests are protected as fundamental rights.”

In today’s events, members of the Protest Movement were detained by authorities while preparing for a demonstration at ZESCO Headquarters in Lusaka. Despite the group’s intention to express discontent over the management of power shortages by ZESCO, their protest was met with police intervention. This action comes after the police did not respond officially to the group’s protest notification earlier this month.

An organizer for the movement, emphasized their commitment to exercising their constitutional rights to protest peacefully. The group anticipated approximately 500 participants in the demonstration, highlighting widespread public concern regarding the impact of load shedding on daily life.

From a human rights perspective, the detention of peaceful protesters raises significant questions about the right to freedom of assembly and expression in Zambia. International human rights standards protect individuals’ rights to peacefully assemble and express their opinions without fear of intimidation or reprisal. The authorities should ensure that any restrictions on these rights are proportionate and necessary in a democratic society.

Efforts to curtail peaceful demonstrations undermine democratic principles and limit citizens’ ability to participate in public discourse on critical issues affecting their communities. It is crucial for the Zambian government and law enforcement agencies to uphold human rights standards, including respecting and facilitating peaceful protests as an essential component of a vibrant democratic society.

The situation calls for transparent dialogue between authorities and civil society to address grievances constructively and uphold the rights of all Zambian citizens to peacefully assemble and express their views without undue interference.

It has become apparent that Zambia’s Democracy has shrunk and the rule of law has broken.

We must endeavor to protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic and our Democracy.

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