15 years for indecent assault too harsh-ZP

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15 years for indecent assault too harsh-ZP

Lusaka, August 1, 2014, ZANIS—An Assistant Commissioner of Police in the Zambia Police Service says the 15 years minimum sentence for indecent assault is too harsh for a mere touch.

James Masiye has submitted to the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission sitting in Matero township in Lusaka today that the Police Service also has trouble to justify what characterizes defamation of the Republican President because the offence has no proper definition.

But Commissioner Emily Sikazwe who is also Women for Change Executive Director defended the minimum sentence of 15 years for indecent assault saying the law was fair as most women did not like to be touched unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner Masiye has defended the failure by officers to enforce some laws saying this was due to inadequate consultation when they are being formulated.

Mr. Masiye told the Commission that some controversial laws such as the Public Order Act has dragged the name of the police service into disrepute because officers have no option but to enforce it even if they know that it was not for the good for the citizens.

Mr Masiye submitted that Police Officers have been accused of abrogating laws in their discharge of duties because they are not consulted enough when laws are being formulated and end up making mistakes when implementing them.

He also disclosed that the Public Order Act has put the police service in ridicule as it is too unspecified and can easily be abused by officers depending on the application.

But Commission Chairperson Frederick Chomba wondered why the police service had continued to abuse the law when the Constitution was clear that people do not need a permit to convene a meeting but to merely inform the police.

Justice Chomba observed that the police were enforcing colonial laws that were revised a long time ago where citizens were compelled to seek police permits before holding meetings which he said is no longer the case.

However, Assistant Commissioner Masiye disclosed that in most cases police officers who are the implementers of the law are left out or given little time to make submissions to draft bills hence they face problems to implement certain laws because they have little understanding.

He cited the amendment of the penal code on indecent assault which carries a minimum of 15 years and the defamation of the president as some of the laws where the police service was not adequately consulted.

He said some cases such as those involving child marriages, deforestation and being found in possession of ivory carries harsh sentences which might send all the boys and villagers to prisons if not revised.

And Mr. Masiye recommended that the position of Inspector General of Police should have certain qualifications and tenure of officer so that office holders could be objective when dealing with citizens.

He also stated that the Police Service is losing too much human resource due to early retirement of provincial commanders after the change of government and recommended they should not be appointed and sworn in by the Head of State in order to avoid the tendency of retiring young officers.