The Zambian Civil Liberties Union (ZCLU) has called on the Zambian Police Service Command to provide an explanation regarding the death of a suspect, Maxwell Mwila, in police custody last Saturday. Additionally, the government has been urged to support independent measures for prosecuting officers involved in torture at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In a statement released by Maurice Makalu, the Deputy Executive Director of ZCLU, the organization emphasized that cases of torture are severe crimes against humanity and can be prosecuted at the ICC. ZCLU stated their intention to compile a list of officers involved in torture, gather evidence, and submit the torture dockets to the ICC, which has universal jurisdiction to hold perpetrators of torture accountable.
Mr. Makalu highlighted that the reported cases of torture suggest the possibility of more instances of torture against ordinary suspects that remain undisclosed or ignored due to their lack of prominence or political affiliations.
Meanwhile, ZCLU is currently gathering information on Maxwell Mwila, the suspect who died at Matero Police Station last Saturday. According to sources, Mwila was initially interrogated at Lusaka Central Police Station before being transferred to Matero Police Station, where he ultimately passed away.
Lusaka Central Police Station and Lilayi have gained notoriety for alleged torture of suspects.
Mr. Makalu urged the police to issue a statement clarifying the circumstances surrounding Mr. Mwila’s death in detention.
The recent release of the “USA 2022 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Zambia” by the US State Department exposed arbitrary killings, torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of suspects by law enforcement agencies.
Expressing disappointment over the lack of compliance with President Hichilema’s directive for law enforcement agencies to respect human rights, the ZCLU Deputy Chief advised the police against combating alleged crimes through criminal tactics themselves.