PAN WELCOMES PROPOSED REFORMS IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
The Paralegal Alliance Network (PAN) is happy with the proposed reforms by President
Hakainde Hichilema to the administration of criminal justice in Zambia.
During the appointment of new security and defence chiefs Sunday evening The President
urged the new police chief to reform the command structure and ensure that police bond
must not be denied whenever requirements are satisfied. He directed that the police must
take those arrested to court within 48hrs without transgressing the rights of citizens. He
said the judicial system must grant bail especially if there is no security or flight risks. “Bail
conditions must be fair and relaxed to citizens” he said. He assured that cadres will not
attack the Police as was evidenced under the previous regime.
PAN welcomes these pronouncements by the President and call on the government not
only to do what the President has said but to even change the system so that criminal
accused persons suspected of having psychosocial or intellectual impairments can be
examined from within the provinces where they come from as opposed to Chainama
Hospital which is only in Lusaka.
The new government must ensure that the Ministry of Home Affairs has enough funding
for the Zambia Correctional Service and Zambia Police Service to transfer such persons
for medical examination to Chainama and back to court after examination within the
prescribed or short time as we await for the decentralisation of the system. Reviews of
inmates held during the President’s pleasure (HEPs) should be done regularly and
consistently as prescribed by law. Those on medication and are held in correctional
facilities should receive medication regularly as and whenever they need it.
We further appeal to the government to put measures in place to enable the court
adjudicators to use community service sentencing which is currently being avoided due to
inadequate man power for supervision. This will lessen congestion in prisons and enable
such convicted persons to remain home with their families.
Lastly, we appeal to the new government to prioritise the implementation of the legal aid
policy and the Legal Aid Act so that access to justice can be enhanced through the
recognition and roll out of the work of paralegals.