The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is concerned that police officers have continued to brutalise citizens for exercising their freedoms, despite the Bill of Rights guaranteeing every citizen various fundamental rights.
Commenting on the brutal manner in which officers responded to protesting students from the Copperbelt University in Kitwe about two weeks ago, LAZ President Linda Kasonde said in a statement today that the conduct exhibited by the officers had capacity to erode the positive strides that the country had made.
Kasonde stated that she expected the police officers who assaulted and brutalized students to be identified soon and punished according to the law.
“The Law Association of Zambia joins various stakeholders in condemning the brutal assault on a number of Copperbelt University (CBU) students on 5th December, 2017 by some Zambia Police Officers who were deployed to quell a protest by some CBU students over their demand for meal allowances. LAZ is concerned that despite the Bill of Rights in the Republican Constitution guaranteeing every citizen various fundamental rights and freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of torture, inhuman or degrading punishment, some police officers who are allegedly mandated to ensure that citizens enjoy these rights were in the the forefront of denying the students their constitutional rights,” Kasonde stated.
She regretted that the behaviour exhibited by some police officers in their quest to quell the protests had capacity to destroy the positive strides that the country had made in promoting and protecting human rights.
“LAZ is of the view that the conduct exhibited by some of the police officers in the unfortunate incident could have the effect of eroding the positive strides that Zambia had made in promoting and protecting human rights and tarnishing the country’s image globally. We are heartened by the fact that the Minister of Higher Education has stated that government is investigating the conduct of the Police Officers in question. LAZ hopes that the police officers who assaulted and brutalised students will be identified and brought to book sooner than later. LAZ equally hopes that an amicable means of allowing students to air their grievances peacefully through student leadership will be found in order to avoid such occurrences in the future. In such matters, dialogue through the student leadership is critical,” Kasonde stated.
Meanwhile, Kasonde disclosed that LAZ would find time to engage the Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo; her Home Affairs counterpart Stephen Kampyongo and the CBU student union leadership to discuss how matters of students unions should be handled in future.
“In accordance with its objective under section 4 (I) of the Law Association of Zambia Act, Chapter 31 of the Laws of Zambia, which mandates LAZ ‘to seek the advancement of the rule of law and of the rights and liberties of the individual’, LAZ will be engaging the government, particularly the Honourable Ministers of Higher Education, Home Affairs; the Inspector General of Police; and the CBU student leadership to share ideas on how such unfortunate and avoidable incidents can be averted in future,” stated Kasonde.