“CSO Demand Clear Roadmap for Public Gatherings Bill”

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 (2-05-2024) – A consortium of 23 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) is urging the government to provide a clear roadmap for the enactment of the Public Gatherings Bill, which has been pending for over a year since its transfer to government ministries.

The CSOs, represented by Patrick Kaumba, Executive Director of GEARS Initiative Zambia, propose amendments to the bill to emphasize facilitation over regulation of gatherings, ensure fair treatment during elections, and provide avenues for appeal and transparency in police decision-making.

The CSOs are calling on the government to fulfill its promise to reform the Public Order Act and to share a clear roadmap for the enactment process, emphasizing transparency and stakeholder engagement.

He said the CSOs pledge to continue advocating for legal reforms that enhance democracy, governance, and human rights, utilizing various platforms for outreach and engagement.

He also expressed concern about ongoing restrictions on civic and political activities, such as the denial of political space for opposition parties.

They urge the government to recognize the importance of freedoms of association and assembly as fundamental human rights crucial for a healthy democracy.

While the Public Gatherings Bill has progressive elements, such as reduced notification periods and provisions for spontaneous gatherings, the CSOs identify areas for further improvement.

They propose amendments to ensure that the bill promotes and protects the rights of citizens to assemble and associate freely.

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