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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

This persecution must stop

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We have no issue yet with the arrest, in the past few days, of former president Joyce Banda’s sister and personal assistant Cecilia Kumpukwe and one Stella Assani on the suspicion of authoring a fake resignation letter of Vice President Saulos Chilima.

As law abiding citizens, we can only hope that justice will be allowed to take its course.

However, while the police are mandated to make arrests, the manner in which the suspects are being treated raises serious human rights questions in a democratic country such as ours.

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In both cases, the suspects were arrested in Blantyre, locked up in the commercial city then driven—at taxpayers’ expense—over 300 kilometres to Lilongwe where they are remanded.

Can the police explain why they are deploying heavy-handed and archaic tactics bordering on torture well before the suspects are proved guilty?

Is it really necessary to drive someone for four hours from Blantyre to Lilongwe over a mere suspicion and when investigations are not conclusive?

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Are the police implying that there are no police cells that can accommodate suspects in Blantyre?

Does the fact that the Police are headquartered in Lilongwe, where the Inspector General is based, warrant these tactics?

In as far as we are concerned, any offence can be investigated from any corner of the country.

Recently, we had a case of Tanzanians being found guilty of trespassing at Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga. In this case, the long arm of the law dealt with the wrongdoers right in the Northern Region; so what is so special with the latest two suspects who are Malawians?

If the issue is about the gravity of the offence, can the police explain why these Tanzanians were not bundled into a Landcruiser and locked up in Lilongwe?

Is this not a blatant abuse of the process of justice? Southern Region police cells are packed with hardcore criminals and suspects over very serious offences, what is special with these particular suspects from Chigumula?

Why is the police playing into the hands of people such as the Peoples Party’s spokesperson Joseph Chikwemba who thinks politics is at play in these arrests?

The supposedly reformed police should stop its 20th Century tactics of persecution before trial for this country chose democracy that grants suspects and even convicts their rights

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