Zambian Opposition Leader Charged with Criminal Libel, Hate Speech


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“She was warned and cautioned rather for the offense of hate speech contrary to Section 65”

Police
in Zambia have arrested an opposition leader on charges of libel and hate speech
after she criticized President Hakainde Hichilema’s media director.

 
Police
spokesperson Rae Hamoonga said National Democratic Party leader Saboi Imboela
is in police custody and has been read a “warn and caution” statement
informing her that whatever she says could be used against her in a court of
law.

 
Hamoonga
said Imboela was arrested for a Facebook post that criticized the president’s
media director, Clayson Hamasaka.

 
Imboela’s
lawyer, Joseph Chirwa, said she was called into police headquarters in Lusaka
on Tuesday and told she would be questioned by the anti-fraud squad.

 
“She
was warned and cautioned rather for the offense of hate speech contrary to
Section 65 of the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act. She was warned and
cautioned, charged and arrested for the offense of criminal libel contrary to
Section 191 of the Penal Code of Zambia, Chapter 27 of the laws of
Zambia,” Chirwa said.

 
Zambia
enacted the controversial measure in 2021 under the former ruling party, the
Patriotic Front.

 
Critics
have expressed concern that the law is being used to muzzle freedom of
expression, freedom of the press and the right to privacy.

 
More
than a dozen opposition leaders and citizens have been arrested in the past
year for public comments deemed critical of the government or government
officials.

 
The
opposition and human rights defenders have accused the ruling party of
suppressing dissent. Hichilema’s spokesperson, Anthony Bwalya, has repeatedly
denied the allegations, calling the opposition “petty.”

 
VOA


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