By Bennie Mundando

THE extension of Zambia police’s brutality to the defenseless and innocent extended family members to United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema a democratically recognized political player is a severe violation of civil freedoms and rights as enshrined in the Republican constitution, Zambian Network for Human Rights Defenders (ZNHRD) has charged.

(ZNHRD) has told The Scoop that it does not dispute the role police have to enforce, maintain law and order in the nation and that it is also their legal mandate to investigate and or, retrieve illegally possessed and stored weapons from any suspected member (s) of the public.

The Network however says the manner in which their duties are performed should not create obvious suspicions that their conduct is politically-motivated.

It says it was concerned that if the Police Service will continue acting in the manner they did in Shibuyunji, Chief Shakumbila’s chiefdom, the public’s perception and narrative will remain bad and will further reduce the confidence citizens have in them as an impartial and key organ of the government.

Zambians have been calling for the amendment of the Public Order Act (PoA) for many years now and this has not been achieved yet. It however looks like the law is not necessarily the one that needs amendment but the realization by the police for them to be professional and independent in their execution of duties.

The recent raiding of a Farm house in Shibuyunji area believed to belong to the parents to the wife to the largest opposition political party leader by the Zambia police is a clear testimony of how the Zambia police have no respect for Zambian laws and Democracy. It is unimaginable for a peaceful family to receive such a brutal raid simply because their daughter is married to a politician,” it said.

As a network, we condemn the brutality exhibited in the raid. The alleged citizens could have been summoned to any nearest police station for investigations before instituting a raid on their farm land. The action, we believe, sent terror and their rights too were violated as they were exposed to an action that would have been conducted smoothly without causing fear and terror.

Zambia is a signatory to many international charters and conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. All these instruments among other rights they seek to uphold include right to humane treatment and that, children should not be exposed to violent scenes,” it said.

The Network called upon the Commander- In-Chief of all Armed Forces and Republican President, to condemn the action by the police.

This will show that he means well in his fight against political violence including police brutality on innocent citizens. Further, we also appeal to him to call to order those working under his commands as a preventive and curative action/measure towards such behaviors especially that the public have not yet forgotten how two innocent citizens lost their lives recently at the hands of the police in very unclear circumstances.

We urge the president to stand firm and protect every citizen irrespective of one’s standing and relations. The president must also know that Zambians’ expectations from him as head of state are very high especially that this is an election year.

Finally, we would like to extend our appeals to the Minister of Home Affairs and the Inspector General of police to term their officers if political peace and co-existence is to prevail in Zambia. Any action that falls within their jurisdiction should be executed carefully to avoid what may be perceived as political vindictiveness and witch-hunt,” it said.

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