By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA
THE Lusaka High Court has dismissed an application by five Non –Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for a conservatory order restraining the prosecution of people under the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act pending determination of their petition.
In the petition, the NGOs allege that the Act seeks to facilitate widescale and interception of private communications with insufficient safeguards for constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms.
Chapter One Foundation Limited, Bloggers of Zambia Limited, Alliance for Community Action, Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative and People’s Action for Accountability and Good Governance in Zambia filed the petition in the Lusaka High Court yesterday and cited Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions as respondents in the matter.
They argued that sections 11, 12, 29, 38, 40, 54, 59, 65, 69, 72 and 74 of the Act severely threaten the right to privacy, the freedom of expression, the right to freely impart and receive information, the freedom of conscience, the freedom of the media and the right to a fair trial.
Judge Catherine Lombe-Phiri in her ruling of the application for the order said that the conservatory order they were seeking does not exist in the statute book but the sum effect of the order would be the same as granting the NGOs an injunction.
Ms Justice Lombe-Phiri said that the constitution has no place for interim (interlocutory) orders when the enforcement of rights under articles 11 to 26 is sought.
She said that the application was seeking to enforce rights under article 20.
“ Therefore even by some stretch of jurisdiction under the State Proceedings Act, section 16, if I were persuaded to grant this conservatory order being sought, (which I am not), it would not be tenable due to limitations placed by the interpretation of article 28 by the Supreme Court,” she stated.
She said the High Court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to grant the order.
“In view of the foregoing, the application for conservatory order is dismissed in its entirety as article 28 of the constitution does not provide for interim orders,” she said.
Judge Lombe Phiri granted the five NGOs leave to appeal.