Rights Commission alarmed by rising cases of deaths of suspects in Zambia police custody


The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has expressed grave concern over the persistent violation of the right to life of suspects by the Zambia Police Service.

Dr. Pamela Sambo, the Commission Chairperson, stated that there was a worrying trend of suspects being shot, tortured, or subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment.

In a statement issued in Lusaka on Friday, Sambo highlighted numerous complaints received and investigated by the Commission regarding alleged violations of suspects’ right to life.

“This trend appears to be continuing,” Sambo noted, calling upon the police service command to implement immediate remedial measures. “In 2023, the Commission received numerous complaints alleging extra-judicial killings by the police.”

Sambo cited specific complaints related to the deaths of suspects in custody at police stations in Nyimba, and in Chilenje, Matero and Munali in Lusaka.

In the first quarter of 2024, a male suspect taken into custody at a Police Post in Mongu was reportedly tortured and died en route to the hospital.

“In April and May 2024, two suspects died while in custody at Matero and Kanyama Police Stations,” she stated.

Read More: Police urged to investigate officers involved in reported torture of woman in Mpongwe district

Sambo also highlighted the recent shooting to death of four suspects at the Interland PUMA filling station in Lusaka’s Libala area, describing the situation as alarming.

Sambo emphasized that the Constitution mandates the Zambia Police Service to maintain law and order, and to protect life and property.

She reminded the police that their mandate should be executed within the constitutional framework of upholding human rights.

“The Constitution protects the right to life and other rights of every suspect,” Sambo said, underscoring that suspects should be taken before a court of competent jurisdiction to determine their guilt or innocence.

“Article 18(2)(a) of the Constitution is instructive and provides that ‘a person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proven or has pleaded guilty.”

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