THE Human Rights Commission (HRC) has urged institutions involved in the criminal justice system to adhere to President Hakainde Hichilema’s directive to uphold the rule of law and human rights.
In a statement, Tuesday, HRC chairperson Mudford Mwandenga commended President Hichilema for setting a clear national agenda for respect of human rights.
“HRC wishes to commend President Hakainde Hichilema for setting a clear national agenda for respect for human rights by guiding institutions involved in the criminal justice system to uphold the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights. The Commission is particularly pleased with the President’s directive to the Zambia Police Service to carry out thorough investigations before arresting suspects and also consider granting police bond for bondable offences to avoid violating the constitutional right to personal liberty as provided by Article 13 of the Constitution, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia,” he stated.
“It is the Commission’s expectation that all institutions involved in the criminal justice system such as the Zambia Police Service, the National Prosecution Authority and the Judiciary will adhere to the Presidential Directive as it is a timely restatement of the principles that are in tandem with upholding the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights.”
Mwandenga said the commission was looking forward to strict adherence to the provisions of the law by the police in order to end the violations of the rights to personal liberty.
“The President’s directive is in line with the right of suspects as provided by Section 33 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act, Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia which stipulates that suspects arrested without warrant should be taken to court within 24 hours or be granted police bond. The Commission is looking forward to strict adherence to the Presidential Directive and the provisions of the law by the police in order to end the violation of the right to personal liberty through arbitrary detentions and over-detention of suspects and denial of bond and/or imposition of stringent bond conditions,” he said.
Mwandenga noted that the stringent bond and bail conditions were tantamount to denying bail.
“Further, the Commission commends President Hichilema for reminding the courts on the need to uphold the constitutional right of accused persons by considering granting them bail with relaxed conditions. The Commission has in the past pointed out that stringent bond and bail conditions were tantamount to denying bail or bond to the detriment of the rights of accused persons. The President’s directive must therefore be commended and implemented because it has potential to contribute to ending violations of a wide range of human rights of suspects and accused persons such as prolonged pre-trial detention, overcrowding, lack of access to adequate water supply, sanitation and food before and pending trial,” stated Mwandenga.