Zambia: High Court confirms acquittal of HIV activist, Paul Kasonkomna

Paul Kasonkomona was arrested after he appeared on a MuviTV programme where he spoke about the need to recognise the rights of vulnerable groups such as LGBT persons and sex workers in order to comprehensively address the HIV pandemic. Kasonkomona was charged under section 178(g) of the Penal Code with the idle and disorderly offence of soliciting in a public place for immoral purposes. 

After his initial acquittal, the State appealed, arguing that it was justifiable to limit the right to freedom of expression where persons expressed their views on the rights of LGBT persons. However, High Court Justice Mulongoti confirmed the 2014 ruling that the State did not present sufficient evidence on all the elements of the offence.

“The judgment of the High Court is important because it confirms that it is not unlawful to lobby for law and policy reform and for the protection of the rights of marginalised groups,” says Anneke Meerkotter, from SALC. “It in unacceptable that the State doggedly pursued criminal prosecution of a human rights activist when they never had any evidential basis for such persecution.The outcome of this case is a victory for freedom of expression in Zambia.” Read More