Zimbabwe: Landmark court ruling against draconian protests legislation opens a new chapter for human rights

Responding to the Constitutional Court’s decision to overturn Section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which prohibits demonstrations without prior authorization from the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe, Jessica Pwiti said:
“This landmark decision by the Supreme Court is a welcome step which we hope opens a new chapter for human rights in the country. For far too long, this repressive piece of legislation has been used to systematically harass, arbitrarily detain and torture people seen as opposition supporters or those trying to expose human rights violations. The fact it is no longer on the statute books is cause for celebration.
“But it’s now the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that the court’s decision is immediately implemented. This means facilitating an environment in which the right to peaceful assembly is ensured without undue restrictions – as guaranteed by both national and international law. Police must also ensure that they respect the law.”
POSA is a 2002 version of the colonial Rhodesian Law and Order Act (LOMA), which was used to suppress human rights. It has been routinely used by the Zimbabwean authorities to prevent and disperse peaceful demonstrations.
Handing down the judgment, Justice Rita Makarau said the legislation in question was open to abuse by the state.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English):  +1 613-744-7667 ext. 236; lscholey@amnesty.ca