Malawi Law Society (MLS) has warned the Police against applying the shoot-to-kill mechanism against suspected criminals, saying there is a possibility of it being abused.
MLS though its president John Suzi Banda and secretary Khumbo Soko said although the shoot-to-kill order is legitimate under special circumstances, there is a high likelihood of trigger-happy police officers abusing it, in light of the escalating violent crimes during which some police officers have been killed.
The lawyers’ body noted that in recent weeks several people suspected of criminal wrongdoing have been shot dead by police.
“The Society observes that use of lethal force by the [Police] is regulated by law. Use of firearms is only authorised to enable a member of the [police] apprehend a person who attempts to evade a lawful arrest or who tries to escape from lawful custody. The police can also use lethal force in order to protect themselves and or members of the public from grave and imminent danger,” said MLS in a statement.
The lawyers said use of force in such cases must be “reasonable, appropriate and necessary” and should never be for the wanton desire to kill or maim alone.
MLS reminds the police of the legal instruments that call for the protection of the sanctity of the inherent right to life and the principal of presumption of innocence until a suspect has been found guilty and that the use of firearms ‘shall as far as possible be to disable and not to kill.’”
The Law Society notes with concern the breakdown of security in the country.
“No corner of the country has been spared the wave of violent crime sweeping through the country which appear to be well organised. The Society is saddened that some of the country’s citizens have lost their lives due to these criminal activities,” said MLS statement which also paid tribute to officers of the Malawi Police Service (MPS) who have made the ultimate sacrifice in their fight against crime.
MLS said government should ensure more can be done to improve the working and living conditions of police officers and that the country will put at their disposal the required resources to allow them ably meet their legal mandate of protecting lives and property of Malawians.
The Law Society regrettably notes, however, that there are some elements within the police who are engaged in criminal activities.
“This represents a disgraceful betrayal of the trust that the country places in these officers,” said MLS, stressing that the undesirable elements should be held accountable for their actions.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :