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Court name
Supreme Court of Zambia
Case number
Appeal 8 of 2014

Law Assocation of Zambia v Attorney General (Appeal 8 of 2014) [2016] ZMSC 46 (13 May 2016);

Law report citations
Media neutral citation
[2016] ZMSC 46
Case summary:

Freedom of association – Constitutional right to free association – Limitation of right of free association – Legislation limiting right of free association

Freedom of assembly – Constitutional right to free assembly – Limitation of right of free assembly – Legislation limiting right of free assembly

Headnote and holding:

This was an appeal against the decision of the High Court stating that sections 5 and 6 of the Public Order Act, Cap 113 Laws of Zambia (POA) do not violate the constitutional provisions on freedom of expression and assembly.

The court determined whether the POA, as amended, was constitutional and addressed concerns raised by the court in the Mulundika judgment over the unconstitutionality of the pre amended section 5(4). Second, whether the police were applying the provisions in the POA in a fair manner.

Although section 5(6) lacked a time frame for a reasonable alternative period to which a public meeting may be postponed, the court found that the requirement for a notice addressed the concerns raised in Mulundika.

It was further noted that freedom of expression and assembly could be limited by the police for public order. However, the police must give a reason for a failure to police a public meeting. The reason must fall within the ambit of sections 20(3)(a) and 21(2)(a) of the Constitution. The limitations placed by the POA on the rights were thus held to be constitutional.

The court also held that the grievance procedure in sections 5(8) and 5(9) of the POA was just and fair. Namely, when the police are unable to police a public meeting, they inform the convener within five days of the notification. The police are then required to give reasons which may be challenged on appeal. Further, the grievance must be resolved within 10 days.

Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.