The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has criticised the country’s military after some soldiers were filmed assaulting some unidentified youths for allegedly insulting President Hakainde Hichilema.
In a statement issued on 23 June 2022, LAZ honorary secretary Sokwani Peter Chilembo called upon the Army Commander to discipline the rogue soldiers so as to maintain the Rule of Law in the country. The statement reads:
The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is appalled at videos showing military personnel assaulting unidentified youths for purportedly insulting the President of the Republic of Zambia Military weapons are also seen in one of the said videos, being used to intimidate the said youths.
Regardless of the behaviour exhibited by the youths, Zambia has sufficient laws in place to deal with such conduct.
The institution bestowed with the constitutional power to effect arrests over such conduct, and possibly prosecute, is the Zambia Police Service, acting in liaison with the Director of Public Prosecutions.
There is no law that gives military personnel power to mete instant penalties on erring members of society.
To say the least, the conduct exhibited by the military personnel, who are identifiable in one of the videos, is illegal, inhumane, degrading and undermines the Rule of Law and Constitutionalism in the country.
Military personnel in Zambia play a key role, and their importance cannot be overemphasized.
However, no one is above the law, and under no circumstances must any citizen, let alone men and women in uniform, take the law into their own hands and mete out street justice.
Therefore, it is LAZ’s strong view that such conduct by military personnel on private citizens should immediately be redressed by the Military Command.
LAZ therefore, calls upon the Army Commander to take appropriate steps to promptly deal with the erring officers so as to maintain the Rule of Law, and to deter would-be offenders within their ranks.
LAZ will not relent in the execution of its statutory mandate to protect Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law, for the greater good of the Nation.
Military brutality is not uncommon in most African states and was reportedly a recurring feature in Zambia under former president, Edgar Lungu.
Hichilema, who was elected president in August 2021, promised Zambian citizens that State institutions will uphold the rule of law under his presidency but the latest incident of military brutality has brought his sincerity under scrutiny.