The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has condemned the Malawi Police Service for using force in enforcing Covid-19 containment measures.
According to a statement released yesterday and signed by MHRC executive secretary Habiba Osman, police officers have been using force to ensure minibus drivers are carrying two passengers per seat and that everybody found at a public place wears a mask.
While emphasising that citizens should take heed of the preventive measures, she also highlighted the need for police officers to refrain from using excessive force against individuals who she said are supposed to enjoy their right to health.
The statement further recommends that government should put measures in place to ensure people are enjoying their right to health in the face of the new wave of Covid-19.
Reads the statement in part: “This is a call to personal responsibility… While Covid-19 deserves some special attention, government should put in place mechanisms to ensure that the right to health is fully enjoyed.”
But National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said in an interview yesterday that police officers are just executing their mandate to enforce the regulations.
He said the police will always use necessary force whenever citizens are resisting the regulations.
Said Kadadzera: “It is true that we are enforcing regulations. We have the mandate to ensure regulations are followed. Whenever we see that people are resisting regulations we will use necessary force that is within the law…”
Last week, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director Michael Kaiyatsa also condemned the police for beating up people who were found not wearing masks.
On Wednesday this week, there was a scuffle between police officers and minibus drivers operating on Likuni Road in Lilongwe over the directive that they should carry two people per seat.
According to Kadadzera, about 150 people have been arrested nationwide for not complying with the newly gazetted regulations.
He said those arrested will be taken to court and will be fined a minimum fee of K15 000.