By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
The Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) has condemned the unconstitutional arrest of former police officer, Jeyson Musonda Chipepo for staging a peaceful lone protest at the police headquarters.
The one man protest happened on Wednesday 2, June 2021, which Mr. Chipepo staged said he was against what he considers the intimidation of citizens and the abuse of the police service by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Kakoma Kanganja.
CiSCA Chairperson Judith Mulenga said it was a justiciable right that Mr Chipepo was exercising and as far as CiSCA is concerned.
Ms Mulenga said he was not carrying any weapons and so his was a very peaceful demonstration against a public officer, Mr. Kakoma Kanganja.
“As a movement which advocates for and promotes the supremacy of our Constitution and the rights and freedoms contained therein, and in this instance the right to freedom of assembly and expression for everyone, we wonder why the Police arrested someone who was simply exercising his rights and was in no way riotous, Article 26 of the Zambian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of peaceful assembly”, she said.
Ms Mulenga said that Mr. Chipepo was also exercising his right to freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 20 of the Zambian Constitution.
“The freedom guarantees one the right to say what they want to say and includes the freedom to express one’s opinion on a matter, as pronounced by one of the supreme courts within the SADC region, the freedom of expression is one of the most precious of all guaranteed freedoms and it has four broad purposes to serve as It helps an individual to obtain self-fulfillment, assists in the discovery of truth, strengthens the capacity of an individual to participate in decision making and, provides a mechanism by which it would be possible to establish a reasonable balance between stability and social change”, she said.
Ms Mulenga said that by arresting Mr. Chipepo, the police are denying him the opportunity to exercise what the supreme law of the land guarantees him.
“His arrest is therefore nothing but an infringement of his rights as a human being and CiSCA condemns this gross violation of his human rights in the strongest terms, the same Constitution that guarantees Mr. Chipepo’s rights also places upon the Zambia Police Service the responsibility to protect life and property, preserve peace and maintain law and order, ensure the security of the people, detect and prevent crime, uphold the Bill of Rights, foster and promote good relationships with the Defense Force, other national security services and members of society; and perform other functions as prescribed “she said.
Ms Mulenga questioned which of these functions does the arrest of an unarmed, non-violent individual like Mr Chipepo serve.
She said that CiSCA notes that the Executive and its agents continuously deny its deliberate squeezing of the civic space while Zambians wake up to and witness these arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions every single day.
Ms Mulenga said that explanations of police conducting investigations are stale since Zambia has had a police service since before Independence and the level of depravation of liberties and extrajudicial killings too.
“CiSCA wishes to remind the Police that the Constitution which guarantees the rights of freedom of assembly is the supreme law of the land, therefore, the Public Order Act cannot be superior to the Constitution, under the Public Order Act the police are only under a duty to regulate public meetings, assemblies and processions strictly for the purpose of preserving public peace and order, there was no breach of peace and order during Mr. Chipepo’s exercise of his Constitutional rights and so the Police are in breach of the Constitution for arresting him. CiSCA therefore demands the immediate release of Mr Chipepo,” she said.