THE Human Rights Commission (HRC) has welcomed the deployment of the army on the streets provided that they will not abuse citizens.
And the Commission says citizens have the right to sue the State if the army infringes on their rights.
In an interview, HRC chairperson Mudford Mwandenga said the army was not beyond the law and that their actions could be challenged if they infringe on citizens’ rights.
“The Citizens have got the right to take the State to task, they have to sue the government so that they enforce their rights. It is up to the citizens to take up actions against the State. It doesn’t mean that the army is beyond the law. If they infringe the rights, the citizens have the right to challenge their actions. Our prayer is that they are going to do it in a manner that is not going to infringe on the rights of the citizens,” Mwandenga said.
He hoped that the defence force would not abuse citizens, but only maintain law and order.
“The army is being deployed for the purpose of maintaining law and order. You have been noticing what has been going on, was it conducive for free and fair elections? As long as the army is going to live within their bounds, not harass people, there is nothing wrong. The situation was getting out of control, people did not want to follow the rules and the police needed an extra hand. The only thing is that it is our hope that the defence forces are not going to abuse the citizens. But if it is for protecting and maintaining law and order, that is a welcome move. We can’t have a situation where there is violence and disorder,” said Mwandenga.
Zambia Army Director General for Civil Military Affairs Brigadier General Genoh Muke recently assured citizens that no one would be beaten without any reason.
“These killings are not good, we will go into some situations where we will be unable to control it. So the earlier, the better to ensure that there is peace. Who has ever been beaten without any reason? I don’t know why people think like that. This is our country, all of us and we need to safeguard ourselves. The problem which is there is that people have got preconceived ideas. When the President said ‘we are going to deploy the army’, it is because he has seen what is happening. There is no way he can just let people start being killed or killing each other and he is just looking. So he acted and he wants to stop more people from being killed,” said Brigadier General Muke.
“So we are not biased, we are looking at the Zambian people. There is no one who is going to be beaten as long as they maintain what they are supposed to do, they are supposed to ensure that they follow the law. We are there to ensure that no government or personal property will be destroyed by anyone because others take advantage of the situation and start destroying things that people have worked for. Even what the government has worked for. So anyone who goes beyond, when you know that this is wrong and you do it, you will be arrested. If you are a law-abiding citizen, why should you be beaten?”