Malawi Police officers reminded of 48-hours rule of holding suspects 

Malawi Police officers have been urged to observe 48-hour rule when detaining suspects in police cells as no accused person shall be held for more than two days in police custody without being brought before a magistrate or released on bail.

Esau Kamwendo: Polic eofficers should observe 48-hours rule

The call was made on Tuesday during the closure of a three day workshop for police officers and community members on the proper treatment of child suspects and diversion organized by Malawi Police Service with funds from Irish Rule of Law International.

Regional Child Protection Officer for Central Region Sub inspector Esau Kamwendo said detainees should not be punished as they are innocent until proven guilty before court of law.

“We want to make sure that police officers on the ground and community policing should improve their services to do with children. Is it not mandatory that suspects in police cells should not exceed 48 hours being detained and this applies to children and adults,” he said.

Kamwendo further said most of the times incorrect detention of innocent people severely damages perception of the police in the community.

“Illegal detention is a breach of the constitution and human rights law and the Malawi Police could be sued,” he said.

He then appealed to investigators to ensure that cases are concluded quickly, or request remand in a timely fashion and that arresting officers should ensure all appropriate evidence and statements are collected and provided to investigators.

Program Lawyer working with the Malawi Police for Irish Rule of Law International, Heath McCallum said the workshop also aimed at promoting the rule of law and increase access to justice for the citizens of Malawi.

McCallum said this would make sure that police officers in the country are working in accordance with the law as there is gap where some police officers are not adhering to some rules of the constitution of Malawi.

“Malawi has very good laws but the only problem is that police officers do not understand some of these laws so we are trying to orient these officers so that they are able to understand and adhere to them,” he said.

“Some police units in the country are failing to arrest suspects and even bringing the suspects to court in time in order to follow the 48 hour rule, this again is a challenge leading to the failure of the 48 hour rule adherence,” he added.

In Mchinji 160 police officers including community policing members were trained and issued with certificates whereas in Lilongwe, 1000 police officers were trained last year on the same.

The trainings are expected to reach other police stations in the central region.

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