NGO calls for vagrancy laws review
A human rights activist has described Sections 180-184 of the Penal Code that deal with rogue and vagabond as inhuman and barbaric.
The activist has since called upon government to amend the section which gives police powers to arrest people on mere suspicion and without a warrant of arrest.
The law, which has offences dating back to 1930, is said to be targeting individuals deemed lazy, worthless, unwilling to work, or as habitual criminals.
Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance Chreaa Executive Director, Victor Mhango, said the law was crafted to curtail the mobility of persons and criminalise begging in cities.
He said the country is supposed to amend the section to suit the current environment which allows freedom of association and movement.
“People are arrested in rest houses while sleeping. So, we feel that this law is not a good legislation as we are commemorating 51 years of independence,” he said.
Mhango also said it is unfortunate that despite the country being an independent state, we are still maintaining laws that were instituted by colonial masters.
He said the unfortunate things is that poor pedestrians are the ones who get arrested while motorists are left scot free.
“Sometimes some police officers use this section as a fundraising tool; they demand money from people that have been arrested. The law itself it is not clear because in the same Constitution, people are guaranteed freedom of movement and association, hence our call to government to review the section,” Mhango said.
Commenting on the matter, Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale said government welcomes ideas proposed by the public on various reforms and amendments of the Constitution.
He said if they are enough sections to necessitate the amendment, government will set up a special law commission to review the Penal Code.
In September 2014, the police, military and immigration officials conducted a sweeping exercise which resulted in the arrest of over 2,000 people on charges ranging from rogue and vagabond, illegal immigration and many others
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