Deaf complain of injustice in courts

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The Zambia National Association for the Deaf (ZNAD) in Livingstone has complained about lack of access to justice in the courts.

ZNAD members, who appeared before the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission today, complained that they were unjustly treated at police stations and courts because there were no sign language interpreters.

Ricky Mutapenda 35, of 183C Libuyu compound submitted that deaf people encounter a lot of problems in accessing services due to communication barriers.

Mr. Mutapenda said both the police and court officials insist that the deaf must provide their own interpreters during court hearings making it difficult for the members to have fair justice.

"Our recommendation is that the government must through a law provide sign language interpreters at the police and courts because our members suffer injustice due to lack of communication," said Mr. Mutapenda.

And Chimafo Biemba 29, also a member of ZNAD in Livingstone, submitted that members of the association find it equally difficult to access medical treatment because health personnel use oral language.

"It is possible to be given wrong medication due to wrong interpretation because health facilities do not have sign language interpreters," said Ms. Biemba.

She also added that human rights infringements against the deaf were more in the police service as it was expensive for the members to hire interpreters for them to access public services.

And an 68 year-old petitioner has recommended to the Commission that the law governing the provisions of enforcement agencies to enter into a nolle prosequi in a court case must be repealed.

Mr. Dickson Kanyawinyawi submitted that the current provisions of the nolle prosequi only protected police officers and not the common people.

Meanwhile, another petitioner, 58 year-old Edward Banda complained that the court system was slow to hear cases leading to denying people access justice.

Mr. Banda said he has been pursuing a civil matter in the High Court for six years now and that to date, his case has not been assessed by the district registrar for compensation.

The Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission is today receiving submissions from members of the public at the Livingstone Council Chamber before proceeding to Kalomo, Choma and Namwala tomorrow.


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