Rights Commission urges govt to criminalize torture, as suspect reported dead from in police custody


The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has condemned the alleged torture of a suspect to death at Mkushi Police Station in Central Province.

The incident occurred on November 19, 2023.

The Commission further urged government to criminalize human torture, spokesperson, Mweelwa Muleya, said in a statement in Lusaka.

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Muleya said the reported torturing to death of Allan Sikalango, 37, at Mkushi police station was a grave crime and a violation of human rights, which called for punishment of the perpetrators and compensation to the family of the deceased in order to end impunity.

Mweelwa revealed that the Commission was informed that the suspect could hardly walk on his own from the interrogation room when he was taken back into the police cell.

He narrated that the suspect died in the police cell moments after coming from an interrogation room but that other inmates thought that he was still recovering from severe beating, and agreed to give him time to rest.

According Mwelwa, inmates learnt of Sikalango’s death when they tried to wake him up for a meal.

Furthermore, he added that failure by the government to enact an anti-torture law gave an impression of inferred approval of torture as an acceptable means of carrying out investigations and interrogations by law enforcement officers, thereby leading to deaths and permanent disabilities of suspects.

“The Commission will thoroughly investigate the reported violation to come up with impartial and credible findings that will contribute to a fair and just action and decision.

“So far, preliminary investigations indicate that the deceased, who was a resident of Itala Compound in Mkushi, was picked up by the police together with three others and taken to Mkushi Police Station where he was reportedly subjected to severe beating during interrogations,” Mwelwa explained.

He highlighted the right to protection against torture as an absolute right at international, regional and national level.

Mwelwa stressed the need for government to take practical measures aimed at outlawing and effectively punishing acts of torture.

The Commission urged government, through the Ministry of Justice, to immediately start the process of enacting a comprehensive law that criminalizes torture in Zambia to send a strong message that Zambia was a torture-free zone and upholds the sanctity of life.

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