January 30, 2017
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute is concerned by the recent arrest of human rights lawyer Oliver Holland in Zambia. Mr Holland, a lawyer with London-based law firm Leigh Day, was escorted to Chingola Central Police Station and detained without charge after conducting meetings with clients of a class action lawsuit in Zambia on Tuesday 10 January.
Mr Holland was meeting with clients from village communities regarding a lawsuit filed by 1,800 Zambian villagers against UK-based mining multinational Vedanta Resources and its Zambia-based subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM). Both companies have been accused by villagers of being responsible for polluting their water sources and farm land, resulting in illness, death and low crop yields.
Mr Holland was initially detained under the Public Order Act which prohibits meetings of more than three people without a police permit. However, the very nature of Mr Holland’s work – representing 1,800 villagers with limited access to alternative means of communication – requires that he update his clients via group meetings involving around 100 to 150 people at a time.
After being detained for four hours, Mr Holland was informed that he was instead charged under the Penal Code Act for Unlawful Assembly. Upon being offered to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanour and a fine if he agreed to the offence, Mr Holland accepted and was released.
The Commanding Officer of the Police Station informed Mr Holland that he would have to seek a police permit before meeting with his clients in future. In order for Mr Holland to consult his clients the next day he was required to not only request a permit, but also consent to the presence of an undercover armed police officer at the meetings.
September 20, 2016
The lawyer of Zambia’s main opposition, the United Party for National Development (UPND) has been arrested for allegedly being in possession of subversive materials, said a report on Tuesday.
According to the Lusaka Times, the Lusaka based lawyer, Martha Mushipe, was found to be in possession of a “confidential document entitled Strategy of domination PF against opposition UPND 2015 – 2016 and beyond” which among others involved use of violence against the opposition.
The document was allegedly compiled by former Justice Minister Dr Ngosa Simbyakula and two others who were not identified.
Mushipe has since been denied bail, but according to her lawyers they would be going to the Lusaka Magistrate Court to secure her release.
This came just a week after Edgar Lungu was sworn in for his second term as the southern African country’s president.
UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema dismissed the ceremony as “Illegal and unconstitutional”.
Lungu, who first took power last year following the death of Micheal Sata, won the August 11 election by around 100 000 votes. Hichilema, however, alleged that the result was riddled with fraud.
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls on President Edgar Lungu of Zambia to respect fair trial standards and ensure that the tribunal set up to probe the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mutembo Nchito SC, on alleged abuse of authority charges be completely transparent.
Mr Nchito was arrested at his home in Lusaka on Thursday 12 February, after Chongwe Magistrates’ Court (CMC) issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged misconduct and violation of the laws of Zambia. This was the result of a complaint filed by former deputy Minister for Finance Newton Nguni before the CMC. The alleged offences are purported to have been committed in Lusaka, which is outside of the CMC’s territorial jurisdiction. As such, the Lusaka High Court has ordered a stay of the arrest warrant and declared the arrest to be null and void, stating that the CMC, as the lower tribunal, had no competences over the issue.