BY NATION REPORTER
CHAPTER One Foundation Executive Director, Linda Kasonde says the continued application of the law criminalizing defamation of the President is a violation of fundamental rights.
Ms Kasonde has since urged the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to take immediate action to address the issue.
She said in a statement that Chapter One Foundation promoted and protected human rights, constitutionalism, social justice and the rule of law in Zambia.
Ms Kasonde said the aim of Chapter One Foundation was to promote and protect the Constitution and the rights included in it and by so doing contribute to a democratic dispensation in which citizens could freely participate in the democratic governance of the country.
She said the recent repeal of the law criminalizing defamation of the president was a positive step towards protecting the rights to freedom of expression and opinion, as enshrined in the constitution.
Ms Kasonde said the law was often used as a tool to silence critics and stifle dissent, resulting in the violation of the right to free speech and expression.
She also said the law was used to intimidate and harass journalists and media outlets, hindering their ability to report on matters of public interest.
“Despite the repeal of the law, we have seen a disturbing trend of some individuals still being prosecuted under this law. While we recognise that the repeal of the defamation of the President law does not have retrospective effect, we believe that any law that criminalises defamation violates the rights of individuals to express their opinions and hold those in positions of power accountable.
“We therefore call on the DPP to exercise discretion and not continue to prosecute individuals for defamation of the President. We urge the DPP to ensure that any ongoing prosecutions are immediately halted, and that those who have already been prosecuted under the law are granted amnesty,” Ms Kasonde said.
She said as a country, there was need to continue upholding the values of freedom of expression and opinion and ensure that Zambia’s laws and institutions protect and promote these values.