Police Urged to Uphold Suspects’ Rights and Justice

National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust says the police have a responsibility to ensure that suspects and convicts in their custody still enjoy their fundamental human rights and dignity.

Speaking in Balaka during an impromptu visit with various stakeholder to the police holding cells, Balaka NICE District Civic Education Officer Henry Zechariah said “equal access to justice is a right based on human rights obligation which guarantees against exclusion and inequality”.

“With funding from European Union we are implementing ‘Chilungamo Programme’ aimed at enhancing access to justice of suspects and convicts” he added.

Access to justice entails capability of people to claim their rights and protect their livelihoods.

“We are grateful to Balaka police for keeping the holdings cells clean and ensuring that suspects are brought to court within the 48hour provision, although there are some challenges but generally the situation is promising and we will continue monitoring the general handling of suspects and convicts,” Zechariah said.

In his remarks Balaka Police Station officer Gideon Chisale said they are facing challenges in terms of ferrying convicted persons to Ntcheu prison which is the nearest.

“Apart from having no female holding cells and for minors which is in conflict with the law, we are facing challenges to ferry convicts found Covid-19 positive because Ntcheu doesn’t accept them, we instead take them to Zomba Maximum Prison where there is Covid-19 isolated room but it is costly,” Chisale said.

Balaka Second Grade Magistrate Peter Nkuzi said the Police has an obligation to comply with the 48hour rule to avoid congestion and uphold suspects’ rights and dignity.

“Holdings cells designed to accommodate 10 suspects are holding 20 suspects and convicts which is unhealthy. I have since given bail to some four suspects whose court appearances were delayed,” he said.

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