Police overstepping their authority-DPP

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-Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mutembo Nchito says there is no law that mandates Police to arrest people found loitering at night.

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Mr. Nchito says the police were overstepping their authority by arresting and charging people who move at night as there is no law in the Constitution which gives them powers to do so.

Mr Nchito who is a Commissioner on the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission has noted that some people work late in the night hence the need to allow them to move freely unless they are found in a situation suggesting that they are contemplating to commit criminal activities that is when they could be arrested.

The Commission today sat in Lusaka’s Garden compound to receive petitions from residents.

And Chairperson of the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission Chairperson Frederick Chomba observed that much as the police could be seen as abusing their authority by arresting people for loitering at night, they protect citizens from criminals with evil intentions.

Justice Chomba noted that it was difficult to distinguish criminals from genuine people at night which he said has led to some people being arrested wrongly for loitering.

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He observed that the laws against loitering existed during colonial days when citizens were required to move with passes at night which he said no longer exists in an independent Zambia.

He said the country should however not perpetuate colonial laws in an independent Zambia hence the need to allow citizens the right to freedom of movement.

The comments by Justice Chomba and Mr Nchito were prompted by a petitioner Rabson Nsoni of Garden compound who complained of continued police arrests of people found loitering at night.

Mr. Msoni claimed that police in Garden compound were using ‘’Shishita’ as a fundraising venture as they do not even issue receipts when offenders pay admission of guilt fines before being released.

He further claimed that police officers position themselves outside drinking places especially during soccer seasons to arrest people that move from bars to home after the night games or drinking.

He noted that it was unfair for the police to arrest people on the pretext of offering protection from criminals when in fact they lock up innocent people arrested for loitering together with criminals where they are ill-treated.

Garden police station was recently burnt down by angry residents after it was discovered that a boy who was arrested for loitering was found dead in the police cells.

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