HUMAN Rights Commission Chairperson Mudford Mwandenga says the conduct of police has still not changed, despite President Hakainde Hichilema’s call for them to uphold human rights.
In an interview, Mwandenga said a change of mindset was needed in the police department.
“There are a number of teething issues which are worrisome. The conduct of the police has still not changed, there are certain issues which we have to look into and ensure that there is change. With the fact that the President has been very emphatic by saying that as far as he is concerned this government is going to be a government that is going to be ruled by constitutionalism, the rule of law and will uphold human rights. So those are the standards which the President has set, it is our intention to hold the government to those particular standards,” he said.
“It is simple, the police should also remember that even by the Constitution, we are required to uphold the bill of rights. So all that is required is a change of mindset and to recognize the fact that it is a constitutional requirement to uphold the bill of rights. So as they discharge their duties no doubt they are empowered to do their duties in terms of crime prevention, crime prosecution and stuff like that, but they are supposed to do it in a manner that is in line with the bill of rights.”
And Mwandenga thanked President Hichilema for renewing his contract, saying he looked forward to working with the newly appointed commissioners so that they could take the Commission to greater heights.
“First and foremost, I am grateful that the President thought it fit that I should continue in my capacity as the chairperson. I look forward to working with the newly appointed commissioners so that we can take the Human Rights Commission to greater heights. That is despite what I would term as the deficiencies in the law that we operate under, that is the Constitution itself as well as the Human Rights Act. By and large, we have been charged with the responsibility of promoting human rights by the Constitution and the Human Rights Act, but there are deficiencies, especially with regards to the protection of human rights. With my colleagues who have been appointed, I am sure we are going to chart the way forward to continue with our statutory obligations, which are promoting and protecting human rights within the legislation we operate under. So, I really look forward to working with my colleagues,” said Mwandenga.
“At the same time, I should also say that credit should also go to the members of staff of the Human Rights Commission because without them working extremely hard, it would have been difficult for me to have my contract renewed. They are the professional set of people that are dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights. So I owe it to them. So, I expect that they are going to continue on this trajectory.”