Question of the Day

The threat to National Security that was anticipated by the state did not materialise. Westfield was not occupied by thousands of young people; on the contrary, a little more than a dozen young people went to Westfield to read a statement.

Instead of being given police protection to issue their statement, they were ordered to disperse in a matter of minutes failing which, the security forces advanced to disperse them.

This confirms that the state has to revisit its notion of threat to National Security. The Public Order Act has provision to seek licence to hold procession. It does not have any provision for awarding licence to assemble where one is not disruptive to the activities of others to discuss without the use of instruments for the amplification of sound. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice needs to interpret Section 25 Subsection (1) of the Constitution in relation to the Public Order Act. Does a group need a permit to assemble without using an instrument for the amplification of sound? Is it lawful to disrupt and disperse a peaceful and orderly gathering? The debate should begin to determine where the lawful exercise of executive authority begins and ends and where the exercise of the right of the citizen begins and ends. Unless this is properly understood, the freedom of the citizenry would be the casualty.

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