By Bennie Mundando
POLICE have treated National Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili’s wife in a cruel, inhuman, and degrading manner, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) has charged.
Police today arrested Mr. Kambwili’s wife, Carol, and her daughter, Chanda for conduct likely to cause a breach of peace and assault respectively and will spend a night in the cells as efforts to secure bonds for them proved futile.
But in a statement made available to The Scoop, HRC spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya says police acted cruelly and that acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of individuals or suspects are absolutely prohibited under Article 15 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia and under International Human Rights Law.
Mr. Muleya says the State violated Mrs. Kambwili’s right to protection from inhuman or any form of ill-treatment regardless of the alleged offence she may have committed.
He says the Commission considers the Police action against Mrs. Kambwili to have been excessive and disproportionate to her alleged action and was not only unlawful and a violation of human rights, but unnecessary, unreasonable, and unjustifiable in a democratic state such as Zambia in which human rights are supposed to be respected and protected.
He says there are no circumstances under which acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of suspects are justifiable and that such acts are universally absolutely prohibited and Zambia should not be seen to be among Pariah States where respect for human rights is concerned.
“The Commission wishes to make it abundantly clear that it is not in any way against the maintenance of law and order as that is a constitutional mandate of the Zambia Police Service, which is also central to the promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms. The Commission’s point of departure is when the police engages in acts of human rights violations.
“The Police can still be firm and effective in executing their mandate without being brutal against suspects, particularly unarmed, defenseless and vulnerable individuals such as women and children. It is regrettable that acts of police brutality against individuals continue unabated and are somewhat increasingly becoming the new normal of police operations during crowd management.
“Such impunity has resulted in numerous cases of gross violation of human rights, including the right to life through extra-judicial killings of citizens at the hands of police officers,” Mr. Muleya said.
He has called on Government, which has the trio primary obligation of respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights, to demonstrate leadership towards ending acts of police brutality which are giving a wrong impression that Zambia is steadily becoming a police state.
“The Commission wishes to take this opportunity to remind both the State and Non-State Actors that under no circumstances are acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment permissible under both national and international human rights laws.
“Therefore, such acts reflect the extent to which the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights are being violated. Zambia is a party to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Government, therefore has an obligation to prevent such acts and/or punish perpetrators of such acts to end impunity, and also take remedial measures in protection of victims,” he said.