The Human Rights Commission is saddened by the reported case of Veronica Mwamba who was beaten by her husband for making a choice to save money during the New Year celebrations in Lusaka. Sadly, the case of Veronica Mwamba adds to the growing statistics of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the country and is a stark reminder to all stakeholders that economic factors like insufficient income among poor household continue to be a worrying source of domestic disputes which have devastating consequences on women. The Commission is, therefore, calling on Government to take extraordinary measures to empower and protect economically disadvantaged women by increasing their access to finance and creating more opportunities for women to participate in gainful economic activities.
The Commission would like to commend the relatives and friends of Veronica Mwamba who made the effort to report the matter without hesitation to the Police for action to be taken as it is a critical part of the efforts to fight GBV. The Commission is calling on the communities to join forces in the fight against GBV by ensuring that the victims regardless of their sex are not silenced, but encouraged and supported to report GBV cases to relevant authorities.
The Commission also commends the Minister of Gender for the timely reminder to the Zambia Police Service to take the fight against GBV seriously when Veronica Mwamba’s case was brought to her attention. The Commission considers GBV as a serious violation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of men and women whose effect include physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm suffered mostly by women.
The Commission, however, notes with concern that the Minister of Gender directed the
Zambia Police Service to ensure that suspects of GBV cases should not be released on police
bond. Over the years, the Human Rights Commission has been implementing the bail/bond reform project aimed at enhancing access to bail/bond for suspects of bailable/bondable offences. One of the key findings of the Commission was that over 80 per cent of the persons in detention were pre-trial detainees with the majority facing bailable/bondable offences for which bail/bond was either denied or granted with stringent conditions. This contributed significantly to overcrowding in police cells and correctional facilities. The Commission considers the denial of police bond/bail premised on any other factors other than the suspects’ failure to turn up at court on the appointed date and time as a violation of the right to protection of the law, particularly the right to presumption of innocence guaranteed under Article 18 (2) of the Constitution of Zambia Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia.
The Commission is therefore calling on the Police to consider granting police bond as a matter of law as provided for under section 33 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code Act Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia which provides that:
“When any person has been taken into custody without a warrant for an offence other than an offence punishable with death, the officer in charge of the police station to which such person shall be brought may, in any case, and shall, if it does not appear practicable to bring such person before an appropriate competent court within twenty-four hours after he was so taken into custody, inquire into the case, and, unless the offence appears to the officer to be of a serious nature, release the person, on his executing a bond, with or without sureties, for a reasonable amount, to appear before a competent court at a time and place to be named in the bond: but, where anywhere any person is retained in custody, he shall be brought before a competent court as soon as practicable. Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, an officer in charge of a police station may release a person arrested on suspicion on a charge of committing any offence, when, after due police inquiry, insufficient evidence is, in his opinion, disclosed on which to proceed with the charge.”
[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambian (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 to promote and protect Human Rights in Zambia]
Principal Information Officer
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION