Patriotic Bill: You can be arrested for criticising national football teams

Patriotic Bill: You can be arrested for criticising national football teams
Patriotic Bill: You can be arrested for criticising national football teams

By Staff Reporter

Constitutional and Human Rights lawyer, Doug Coltart has castigated the way the proposed Patriotic Bill is framed, arguing that it makes even criticising poor-performing national teams a crime.

According to Coltart the Bill is broadly framed which would result in anyone falling victim to it, as it literary criminalise anything that critique the government.

‘’What makes this Bill so dangerous is how it is broadly framed, criminalizing basically anything that critiques government and infringes on freedom of expression.

‘’They talk about criminalising anything that brings the country’s image into disrepute, the way it’s widely framed you could even be arrested for criticising the national football team,” he said.

Speaking on the same issue another legal practitioner Hopewell Chitima said the proposed law is unconstitutionally vague and that if implemented broadly and indiscriminately, will take away the right to privacy of communications.

“The immediate challenge to the proposed Bill lies in its broad and fluid scope. It is elementary that a law which criminalises certain acts and designates criminal sanctions for such acts should do so in express, clear, certain and specific terms. It should not be vague or too fluid.

“The criminal law must not be so widely expressed that its boundaries are a matter of conjecture. If it is not certain, the law may be struck down for being unconstitutionally vague,” he said.

The Patriotic Bill, although it has not yet been gazetted and neither has a draft been shared, has received wide condemnation from both local people and international community.

CSOs are of the view that the Bill, if passed into law could be the last nail in the death of civic space.

Zanu PF on its side says the Bill is coming in to protect the image of the country which had been muddied by alleged reckless opposition politicians and some CSOs.

According to Pupurai Togarepi, the Zanu PF Chief Whip in the National Assembly, some privately-owned media outlets are working in collaboration with CSOs to peddle falsehoods about the country under the guise of human rights.

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