HRDC tells State to act on Malawi police extra-judicial killings report

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) have told the State to act on a report which says the police have been engaged in extra-judicial killing.

Trapence: The State should take action on police systematic campaign against hardcore criminals dubbed “operation elimination”

A recent report by Centre for Human Rights, Education, Advice and Assistance (Chreaa) says the police has shot 48 people in extra-judicial killings In a systematic campaign against hardcore criminals dubbed “operation elimination”.

Human-rights groups condemn all unlawful killings and fight for the rights of the suspects.

But police spokesperson James Kadadzera has dismissed the report, saying the police never engages in extra-judicial review activities.

But HRDC vice chairperson Gift Trapence says the state needs to institute a thorough probe on the matter.

He said other institutions, such as the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) should intervene on the issue as well, saying this was a serious matter of national concern.

CHREAA  deputy director Chikondi Chijozi said the report had been handed over to the country’s ombudsman Martha Chizuma for urgent action.

“The findings of the research are quite alarming to us,” Chijozi said. “We thought it would be important to submit it to the office of the ombudsman so that they do a thorough investigation to find out what happened to the 28 people that died under very suspicious circumstances.”

Chijozi said the report’s findings were based on interviews with relatives and friends of the alleged victims and with some police officers..

The US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor writes in its Malawi 2017 Human Rights Report that there are major human-rights issues in Malawi resulting from “excessive use of force by security officers, including torture” as well as “harsh and life-threatening prison and detention-centre conditions“.

According to the report, moreover, there were “isolated reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings“, and investigations against perpetrators of these killings were “often delayed, abandoned or remained inconclusive“.

“Most of these dead suspects are criminals,” said one police officers who asked not to be named. He insisted that such killings are allowed when police officers are in danger, concluding that the extra-judicial execution of suspects sends a “clear message” to robbers who are “terrorising” the cities. “When police officers carry out such operations, they are doing so to protect civilian lives and property,” he claimed.

In October, the police service came under fire after some officers were accused of sexually abusing women while quelling protests in the capital Lilongwe and in Msundwe, a trading outpost west of Lilongwe.

Barbara Banda, head of the Gender Coordination Network rights group, urged the authorities to “ensure thorough investigation into the… alleged rape, defilement and torture of innocent women and girls”.

Malawi police set up a commission to investigate the allegations.

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