The Law Association of Zambia welcomes the statement of the Minister of Justice that the government plans to hold another referendum on the Bill of Rights. LAZ is on record as having stated that the timing of the previous 2016 national referendum was not opportune as it coincided with the general elections and that not enough time was provided to adequately sensitise the public on the need for a new enhanced Bill of the rights. The Association believes that the new referendum question should take into account the need for simplicity and clarity in terms of the referendum question posed to the people of Zambia. LAZ further believes that any attempt to introduce a new Bill of rights must be in conformity with the will of the Zambian people as documented in the Technical Committee’s final report. LAZ also hopes that, as indicated by the Minister, there will be constructive and effective consultation and dialogue around these issues. We wish to reiterate that a referendum is the only way through which a new Bill of Rights can be introduced under Article 79 of the Constitution. It is therefore imperative that the funds are sourced for a fresh referendum as soon as possible so that Zambians are guaranteed additional basic human rights such as effective right to freedom of information, freedom of the media, the right to health, education, housing and gender equality. In addition, the current Constitution does not allow the Constitutional Court to hear matters relating to the Bill of Rights.
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