FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 12, 2017
ALLOW ALL INTERESTED JOURNALISTS TO COVER THE TREASON TRIAL
The decision by the Judiciary to ban the use of all electronic gadgets and restrict audience during the historic treason trial of incarcerated United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema and five others is extremely unfortunate.
This decision is a recipe to inaccurate, partial, biased and distorted reporting on the case and further, denies those citizens who wanted to follow the court proceedings their rights to hold the judges to account.
The judiciary should search its legal soul and ask itself, as interpreters of the law, whether or not such a decision is within the provisions of the supreme law, it is a just decision and/or the decision promotes accountability of the judiciary to the citizens.
Imperatively, the judiciary should further interrogate its decision to see whether it is in line with Article 20 (2) of the Constitution which instructs that “a law shall not make any provision that derogates from freedom of the press”
Therefore, the decision to restrict access by Journalists to the trial room through the use of draconian and discriminatory tactics of accreditation is derogation from and an infringement on the freedom of the press
The judiciary must clearly explain the main reasons for restricting the coverage of and audience to this “must attend and cover” national and international intriguing and crowd pulling case.
To this end, the judiciary should, in addition, re-check its standing with Article 119(3) of the Constitution which requires, “except as otherwise provided in this constitution, other law or as ordered by the court, that “the proceedings of a court shall be in public.”
It will be in the best interest of the judiciary and the general public to allow, at least, all interested journalists to attend and cover this important treason trial without any restrictions so that the electorate and the general citizenry who are keenly following this case are adequately informed and civically educated.