TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) has urged the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and law enforcement agencies to hold regular consultative meetings on standards of cases.
Commenting on Chief State Advocate in the office of the DPP Nkumbiza Mumba’s remarks that her office delayed to take some cases to court because of insufficient investigations, TIZ president Sampa Kalungu said there should be consistent flow of information between the DPP’s office and that of law enforcement agencies.
“Our guess is that there does not seem to be an amicable relationship between the DPP’s office and that of the law enforcement agencies, there is low capacity (in terms of quality and quantity) at either or both the DPP’s or law enforcement agencies, or there could simply be lack of will and zeal to push the cases to courts. Away from these speculations, what we hope to see is a situation of speedy, consistent flow of information among these entities, if the cases presented to the Office of the DPP are flawed or lack adequate evidence, feedback should be given promptly to the law enforcement pointing out clearly and expertly where the gaps are. And once in receipt of such comments from the DPP’s office, the law enforcement must move swiftly to amend, to search and research for the required level of evidence and thereafter revert to the DPP’s office,” Kalungu said.
He said it would not be pleasing to see majority cases being thrown out of court because of insufficient evidence, despite government spending resources.
Kalungu, therefore, recommended that the office of the DPP and law enforcement agencies should hold regular consultative meetings on the standards of cases.
“As much as we need to see more and more cases enter litigation stages, we are however not going to be pleased to see the majority of them thrown out due to insufficient evidence to secure convictions; meanwhile government resources and time would be expensed for nothing. We therefore recommend that the office of the DPP and law enforcement agencies hold regular consultative meetings on the standards of cases, capacities at both the DPP’s and law enforcement agencies be enhanced especially in the area of legal or prosecution departments. Capacities in terms of numbers of officers clearing cases for litigation be increased to avoid delay. Prompt feedback given from the office of the DPP to law enforcement agencies,” he said.
And Kalungu said that while it was true that the DPP had to have a strong case before allowing the matter to proceed to court, having a bulk of cases stalled in one place was not good.
“We need to remember that the government has different ministries and departments which carry out different tasks according to their own given terms. These ministries and departments are in many instances interdependent on each other and require efficient and active interrelationships. The law enforcement agencies for instance require the hand of DPP to prosecute cases, just like many ministries require the hand of the Ministry of Finance to operate. It is disturbing to hear some law enforcement agencies complaining publicly that many of their cases are stalled at the DPP offices and they can not account for the reasons why there are such delays at the DPP’s office,” said Kalungu.
“Such conversations are supposed to happen internally among the government department. It is equally undesirable that the DPP’s office comes out in public talking about the low quality of cases taken before her offices! Again, these are conversations that must happen between the DPP’s office and that of the law enforcement agencies. While it is true that the DPP has to have a strong case before allowing the case to proceed to courts, having a bulk of cases stalled in one place is not good at all.”