The Constitution guarantees the right of people to demonstrate peaceably. However, the right to demonstrate cannot be absolute.

There can be no right to conduct a demonstration at which there is a clear and present danger of looting, disorder, or interference with traffic on public streets, or other immediate threat to public safety or order.

There is always a need to balance between the right of people to demonstrate and public safety. The balancing act may require demonstrations being confined to areas where such demonstrations would not pose danger to public safety. Demonstrations should be in designated areas and not all over town. This would ensure public safety and security of the demonstrators.

The High Court on Friday morning granted Human Rights Defender Coalition (HRDC) a go ahead for today’s demonstration in Blantyre.

Reckless approval of demonstrations would defeat the very essence of the need for the right to demonstrate. Violence overshadows objectives of a demonstration. Organizers of a demonstration cannot be praised for chaotic demonstrations.

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