The Human Rights Commission (HRC ) wishes to appeal to Law Enforcement Officers not to abuse human rights of suspects during the declared threatened state of emergency period but adhere to the provisions of the Preservation of the Public Security Act and the regulations made thereunder.
The Commission calls upon Law Enforcement Officers to refrain from over-detention of suspects in their efforts to maintain law and order but ensure that detained suspects are taken to court within seven days as provided by the Statutory Preservation of Public Secury Act Regulations of 2017 , ( Statitutrolry Instrument No.55 of 2017).
Any detention of suspects without a court hearing beyond the prescribed period of seven days under the Preservation of Public Security Act Regulations, 2017 is illegal, an abuse of power and violation of human rights of the suspects.
The Commission appreciates the symbiotic relationship between maintaining public security, order and peace on one hand and the need to promote and protect human rights on the other hand.
There is need, therefore, for State Actors particularly the law Enforcement Officers to strike a balance between meeting the two obligations of maintaining public security and respecting human rights.
It is the primary responsibility and mandate of the Government to maintain public securuty, order and peace in order to promote an environment in which the majority of individuals will continue to enjoy their rights and freedoms. Therefore, the invocation of Article 31 by the Government to protect the rights of individuals and properties is within its constitutional and human rights obligations. However, the Commission wishes to advise that as measures are being taken to maintain public security, caution should be exercised by law enforcement officers to refrain from acts that may be perceived as state-sanctioned violation of human rights through abuse of the Preservation of Public Security powers.
The Commission will closely monitor and report on the observance of the effect of invoking Article 31 of the Constitution on human rights and freedoms during the period the proclamation will remain in force. The Commission wishes to put it on record that so far there is growing apprehension that the invocation of Article 31 of the Constitution has potential to result into violation of human rights. This is because even without additional powers, some law enforcement officers were already exceeding their legal limits when dealing with suspects. Of particular concern is the use of torture to extract evidence from suspects, arbitrary arrests, overdetention and malicious prosecution of suspects.
The Commission is appealing to the Government to widely circulate the regulations relating to the implementation of the invocation of Article 31 of the Constitution of Zambia [Amendment] Act.No. 2 of 2016 to enable the members of the public and the law enforcement officers to operate within the provisions of the law.
[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution (with an overall mandate and obligation of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted]
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION