The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has called on the Zambia Police Service to grant cameraman Chellah Tukuta police bond or take him to court immediately, saying his continued detention without trial is a violation of human rights.
Tukuta was arrested in Lusaka last week on criminal libel charges and later transferred to the Copperbelt where more charges were slapped on him.
“The Commission is deeply concerned that Mr. Tukuta who has been charged with counts of criminal libel, threatening violence and racial discrimination has been in police custody for more than seven (7) days, which is over-detention and unlawful. Over-detention constitutes extra-judicial punishment and must not be allowed in a democracy where there must be respect for the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights. Therefore Law Enforcement Officers must refrain from unlawfully punishing, humiliating and degrading suspects during their course of executing their mandate of enforcing the law, which is critical to the criminal justice system of any country,” HRC spokesperson Mwelwa Muleya has stated.
“The Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia, which guides on the promotion and protection of the Right to Liberty as enshrined under Article 13 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia stipulates under Section 33 that anyone arrested without a warrant and not facing an offence attracting death penalty should be taken to court within 24 hours of being arrested and if it is not practicable, he or she should be granted police bond. The offences Mr. Tukuta is facing are all bondable and therefore his continued detention beyond the prescribed legal period is unjustifiable and a violation of his right to liberty and the right to secure protection of the law as stipulated by Articles 13 and 18 of the Constitution of Zambia respectively and various regional and international human rights instruments.”
He stated that it is unacceptable for law enforcement officers to engage in blatant discriminatory application of the law whereby some suspects are automatically granted police bond while others are subjected to unlawful over-detention in violation of human rights with impunity.
“Therefore, it is only fair and just that Chellah Tukuta is granted police bond pending his appearance in court,” Mr Muleya stated.