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DEFEND RIGHTS

The continued abuse of citizen’s individual rights by the country’s law enforcement agencies must not be accepted as the “new normal.”

Zambians must not be deceived that those being visited by the security and investigative wings deserve what they are getting.

As we have often pointed out, there is nothing wrong with the investigating wings summoning people for questioning during investigations.

What we have always criticised has been the manner in which the so-called suspects have been treated – locked up for days on end without being charged.

It is in this vein that we urge Zambians to appreciate the call made by the Catholic Archbishop of Lusaka, Bishop Alick Banda asking President Hakainde Hichilema to prevail upon the police to stop arbitrary arrests and torture of victims.

Several key members of the former ruling Patriotic Front  have found themselves being hauled before the investigative wings to answer to corruption allegations made against them.

We recall how former Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo after being called for questioning by the Anti-Corruption Commission was handcuffed and locked up without being charged.

And even amidst accusations that the investigations have been selective and restricted to PF members, there have been a deafening silence from civil society over the conduct of the law enforcement agencies.

Activists in the civil society movement have forgotten that what is at stake are basic human rights which should not dictate whether one served in a corrupt regime or not.

Archbishop Banda was right to remind the Zambia Police for example that they should be guided by the policy directive given by President Hichilema to respect the rule of law and human rights.

It is pleasing that Archbishop Banda has added his voice to the arbitrary arrests and detention of of the ex-aide de camp to the country’s former President Edgar Lungu, and his barber Shebby Chilekwa.

Mr Chilekwa has reportedly been subjected to torture.  His lawyer, Mr Makebi Zulu said on Wednesday that he was passing blood and has lost hearing.

Archbishop Banda said the law guided that a person shall not be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading punishment or like treatment.

Our call, as Archbishop Banda pointed out is to see to it that the police and other law enforcement agencies are sincere by ensuring that humanity come first regardless of an individual’s social status.

Archbishop Bishop said that it was only right for the authorities to treat Mr Chilekwa with dignity and ensure that he was not victimised while in incarceration.

He said the reports of arbitrary police torture were disturbing and as a country there was need to uphold the rule of law.

It is important that all Zambians subscribe to these tenets of good governance that respects citizen’s rights across the political divide.

That is what will strengthen and make the country prosper.  Zambians must therefore have a say on how the law enforcement wings operate and say no to abuse of the law.

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