— Police abuse complaints dominate Reform Commission sittings in Lusaka

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Complaints against  police mal-practices and human rights abuse have characterized the ongoing Legal and Justice Sector Reform
Commission ( LJSRC ) sittings in various Lusaka townships.

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In all the four locations where the Commission has so far held its sittings, complaints against police conduct, abuse of authority, corruption and ignorance of the law by police are common during the sessions, respectively.

 


Police officers and judicial officers especially judges and prosecutors have in most instances been reported to be the most corrupt in the justice system.

 

On the other had the Drug Enforcement Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Zambia Prison Service officers have been accused of being perpetrators of human rights abuse and mistreating suspects.


The Commission has so far conducted sittings at Lusaka’s Civic Centre, Chawama, Garden and Chilenje townships  aimed at collecting  views of the  general public on how it wants the legal and justice sector  to be reformed.

 

In all the townships, members of the public have complained of police corruption, intimidation and arrests of ‘ innocent’  people on flimsy charges without proper investigations which lead to courts failing to prosecute such cases for lack of evidence.

 

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The conduct of officers in law enforcement agencies and the courts have attracted calls by the public to introduce cameras in these institutions to monitor their operations so that they do not abuse their authorities and officers when dealing with the accused.


Mr. Tomson Tembo, a retired Police Officer who was trained in 1975  has observed that corruption and ignorance in the application of the law by police of nowadays has reached alarming levels in Zambia.


Mr. Tembo stated that police officers deliberately misapply laws and violate people’s human rights without being questioned by anyone.


He has  recommended to the commission that government should consider revising the training Programme for police officers especially in the area of criminal investigations saying the police currently rush to arrest suspects without conclusively investigating the matter for the cases to be tried in courts.


He revealed that even the police bond has been abused by police officers who use it as a fundraising venture as they request people who have been charged and ready to proceed to go to court to report back to the police once they are released on bond which he said should
not be the case.


He also noted that failure by police to investigate homicide cases has led to councils burying huge numbers of unclaimed bodies who could be claimed by relatives if the police had trained investigators.


The commission which is conducting public sittings in Lusaka district is remaining with Kabwata and Matero before it moves to Luangwa district in Lusaka Province.

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