Editor's Comment

Police brutality unwarranted

FINDINGS by the Human Rights Commission concerning the police using excessive force on unarmed University of Zambia students are regrettable.
The Zambia Police Service, as we understand it, should step in to offer its invaluable service to bring sanity to a chaotic situation using civil methods.
However, it appears our police are devoid of modern skills that can be used in a chaotic situation to restore order.
Honestly, how does one expect an armed officer, trained in the art of restoring order, to go flat-out against unarmed students and apply his or her skills using sophisticated weapons?
From the onset, we want to state that we do not side with students who riot at the University of Zambia over an issue that can be settled through dialogue.
But we want to believe that the way the police combat the riots perpetuates  disorder and  we want to urge them to remain an institution that offers its services for the benefit of the university community.
Once upon a time, the institution was referred to as the Zambia Police Force but that was before the democratisation process was set in motion. Given the circumstances then, it was understandable that it remained a force.
At that time, the use of force was tolerable because it was, maybe, to match with the name of the institution.
With the changing times, we entreat the police to adopt conflict resolution methods that correspond to the current trends and this will instil confidence in the institution. Failure to heed advice to reform will erode confidence in the institution.
In the case at hand, it has seemingly become a belief that students can only be contained if the police charge towards them fully armed with teargas canisters and in riot gear.
We want to believe that the appearance of the police in swift-moving trucks like they are headed for a battlefield does not, in fact, instil fear in the students but it may inflame  an already degenerated situation.
What is worse are the suffering and trauma the police presence can instil in some of the innocent students who are not even part of the rioters.
during a students’ riot, some police officers are seen invading rooms in search of students thereby causing suffering to innocent ones.
In some instances, some innocent souls have ended up being victims of police brutality while the real culprits slip through the police cordon. And this is what we call violence because it is against an innocent soul just caught up in the fracas.
One wonders why the police should follow students to their rooms and break doors in an effort to catch the culprits when they are not sure they will end up with the real suspects.
The allegation that police fired teargas canisters at a clinic, if proved, will be said to be the highest form of brutality.
Is this done in mere frustration or to show that they have executed their task successfully and they can produce captives as evidence of their assault?
The police should heed the appeal by the Human Rights Commission to use assertive  policing methods  and better management skills of handling  public protests instead of  using excessive force.
An earnest appeal is made to the police command to investigate the happenings during the riot as soon as possible so that action is taken against the perpetrators of this violence, whether the police or the students.

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