Paul Kasonkomona found not guilty

| Jonathan Dockney
Paul Kasonkomona. Photo courtesy Tillmans/i-Base.

Paul Kasonkomona, a human rights activists working in Zambia, has been acquitted after almost a year of legal proceedings.

He was arrested in April 2013 after appearing on Zambian television calling on the government to decriminalise homosexuality and sex work to combat the spread of HIV. He was charged with “soliciting in a public place for immoral purposes”.

Magistrate Lameck Ng’ambi at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court found that the government had not proved its case against Paul.

Anneke Meerkotter of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre said the acquittal was a “great victory for freedom of expression in Zambia” and a step forward for gay rights.

“Kasonkomona did not deserve to be arrested for expressing his opinion and the court ruling vindicates his rights,” she said.

The magistrate had clearly stated that public discussion was important in a democracy, she said, even on controversial matters and matters that were “uncomfortable to many people”, such as gay rights.

Meerkotter said that this ruling would encourage people to speak out openly about topics of “real importance” to Zambians.

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TOPICS:  Gender Human Rights Society

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