The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has condemned the arrest of Constable Edwin Kabasiya’s wife.

Kabasiya is the officer of Meanwood Kawema Police Post who is on the run after shooting his colleague, Constable Lennox Kapila, who died in hospital last week.

Police arrested Kabasiya’s wife on January 11 and traveled with her to Mongu to help with investigations.

But in a statement, HRC Spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya described the arrest as unlawful and that it amounted to false imprisonment.

“HRC is deeply concerned at the reported detention of Ms. Loveness Katongo Mwale, the wife to the Police Officer who is alleged to have shot dead his colleague in Lusaka and is on the run. The relatives to Ms. Mwale complained to the Commission that she was brutally apprehended by Police Officers in three vehicles on Friday 11th January, 2019 and taken to Chelston Police Station where she was detained. The Commission has also received disturbing reports from Ms Mwale’s relatives that she has allegedly been tortured and was being denied access to medication and that relatives did not know her whereabouts since Saturday 12th January ,2019 when she was last seen in detention at Chelston Police Station in Lusaka,” Muleya stated.

“Since Monday 14th January, 2019, the Commission has been following up with the Police to find out the whereabouts of Ms. Mwale and the information obtained is that she accompanied police officers to Mongu to help track down her husband, Edwin Kabasiya, the police officer alleged to have shot dead Constable Lennox Kapila. The Commission is seriously concerned at the flagrant violation of Ms. Mwale’s constitutional right to liberty as enshrined under Article 13 of the Constitution of Zambia. The right to liberty can only be lawfully taken away, among other circumstances, where there is a court order or upon reasonable suspicion of a person having committed, or is about to commit a criminal offence under the law in force in Zambia. Based on preliminary information gathered by the Commission, there is neither a court order nor reasonable suspicion of Ms. Mwale having committed any criminal offence warranting her detention.”

HRC called upon Police to immediately release Mwale from their custody, urging them to respect her rights to liberty, health, inherent dignity and allow her to communicate and meet with her family.

“Further, it is established in international human rights law that prolonged isolation and deprivation of communication with others as is the case with Ms. Mwale’s incommunicado detention amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment, harmful to the psychological and moral integrity of the person and a violation of the inherent dignity of a human being. The Commission wishes to state that it frowns upon any form of human rights violation such as the continued unlawful practice by the Police of detaining individuals to ‘help with investigations’. The position of the law regarding when the police can arrest or detain someone was clarified in the case of Daniel Chizoka Mbandangoma Vs The Attorney General (1979) Z.R. 45 (H.C.), in which the court held, inter alia; that ‘the police can only arrest persons for offences and have no power to arrest anyone in order to make inquiries…’, and that ‘arresting and detaining anyone for purposes of facilitating investigations was unlawful and amounted to false imprisonment’,” stated Muleya.

“Therefore, the Commission calls upon the Police to immediately release Ms. Mwale from their custody and respect her rights to liberty, health, inherent dignity and allow her to communicate and meet with her family and relatives.The Commission wishes to remind the police that the means does not justify the end. Law enforcement officers must always conduct their operations within the ambit of the law regardless of the gravity or complexity of the matter at hand. “