FODEP executive director Chimfwembe Mweenge says police must always conduct necessary investigations before moving in to raid private property and harassing innocent citizens.
Commenting on the raid that was effected on the UPND secretariat by police officers on Friday last week on suspicion that the opposition party had hidden offensive weapons at their secretariat, Mweenge said police should be reasonable in the way they conducted themselves.
“First of all, we acknowledge that the police have got a role to play as mandated by the law in terms of ensuring that there is public security and safety, law and order and so on. It is very important that we give them the support that is required. However, I think it is important equally that whenever they carry out investigations particularly on the opposition, they should be very certain that what they are doing is not going to end up being portrayed like its just wanting to harass people,” Mweenge said.
If you look at what happened on Friday, the raid was carried out but ended up not being fruitful. I think that it’s important that the police avoid going into circumstances that may be portrayed by the public as intimidation.”
Mweenge feared that the police were losing the confidence of the general public because of lack of reasonableness.
“It’s important for the public including the opposition to give them [police] their support but there should be reasonableness whenever that they carry out any investigations or any raid as permitted by the law. There should be reasonableness. Otherwise people might begin to think that this is intimidation of the opposition,” said Mweenge.
“That is why from our end we are saying that yes the police do have a national duty to preserve law and order and state security for that matter, which doesn’t matter whether you are members of the opposition or you are in the ruling party. I think it’s critical that whenever they have an execution, they do it in a manner that doesn’t, at the end of the day, come out to be as an intimidation. That’s why it’s important that they carry out their duties with reasonableness to an extent that the public does not lose trust in this important institution because it was created to serve the interest of all of us.”