police

Some justice at last for girls, women, raped by police in Malawi

It was a major scandal at the time, but nothing had been done about it until now. Last October, a number of police raped and sexually abused at least 18 girls and women outside Lilongwe, Malawi. The attacks by police were in apparent retaliation for a political protest that had led to one police officer being killed. Since then there was complete inaction by the police, with neither investigation nor arrest.

‘Barred and interdicted’

The Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe scored a victory of note this week. The Zimbabwe Republic Police had issued a press statement on 25 July, listing in minute detail the documents that would be required at checkpoints throughout the country, with immediate effect. But the legal organisation challenged the lawfulness of the police action and were granted an interim order barring the police from demanding the documents listed in the press statement.

In another week of high drama for Zimbabwe, the country's police issued a press statement mid-week with a long list of documents required before people would be allowed to pass police roadblocks and checkpoints.  For example, anyone working for a company or organisation would have to produce ‘Letters from Company Chief Executive Office (CEO) or General Manager (GM) stating the place, days and times of reporting on and off duty.

Police officers cannot escape responsibility for rights abuse by citing ‘higher orders’ – Ugandan court

A judge of Uganda's high court has ruled that individual members of the police and other security forces may not rely on 'higher orders' or claims that they were waiting for orders 'from above', to justify human rights violations. Judge Margaret Mutonyi ordered significant damages as compensation to a number of applicants after she found police had abused their rights. In one of the two applications she dealt with, a number of people were unlawfully arrested and detained for participating in a legal protest against the raising of Uganda's presidential age limit.

Read judgment

It would be difficult to overstate the potential importance of a case just decided by the High Court in Uganda. More than a dozen applicants went to court against a number of police officers and the Attorney-General. Originally two separate matters, the applications were joined by the High Court judge presiding, Margaret Mutonyi, who said they raised similar issues.

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