Zambia’s High Court rules seditious intent unconstitutional

Zambia’s High Court rules seditious intent unconstitutional

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia is happy that the High Court of Zambia has found section 67 of the Penal Code to be unconstitutional as it contravenes Article 20(3) of the Zambian Constitution.

The High Court of Zambia has found that Section 67 does not pass the test of being reasonably justified in a democratic society.

Section 67 of the Penal Code stipulated that any person who publishes, whether orally or in writing or otherwise, any statement, rumor or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace, knowing or having reason to believe that such statement, rumor or report is false, is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for up to three years.

As MISA Zambia we have for a long time been advocating for the removal of such oppressive provisions in the Penal Code because they hinder freedom of expression which is guaranteed in the Zambian Constitution.

Therefore, the landmark judgment passed yesterday in the High Court is a step in the right direction and we look forward to the removal of similar provisions remaining in the Penal Code and other statute books.

We commend the Judiciary for the independent manner in which they adjudicated on the matter. This makes us confident that we have institutions that we can run to when fundamental rights are violated or laws that contradict inherent human rights.

This is indeed a defining moment for media law reforms in Zambia and we urge the Zambia Law Development Commission to speed up the process of submitting to the government all the provisions that stifle media freedom and freedom of expression in the current laws so that they can equally be removed.

Hellen Mwale
MISA Zambia Chairperson

5 December 2014

About MISA Zambia

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.