Malawi Police Service (MPS) has dismissed a preliminary report by Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (Chreaa) whose findings allege that ex-prisoners are being targeted for extra-judicial killings.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, MPS national spokesperson James Kadadzera, however, said there are cases where police officers exchanged fire with armed robbers, resulting in deaths.
“In these instances, police officers have been wounded and killed while in others the robbers have been shot dead or wounded in the ensuing crossfire,” he said.
Chreea’s preliminary report issued last Friday alleges that police were systematically executing some ex-prisoners who had committed serious and violent crimes including armed robbery in what is termed ‘operation elimination’.
The human rights watchdog said it instituted its investigation last year after a former prisoner, with the help of some serving prisoners, provided a list of 43 names of ex-convicts that were allegedly killed by police.
Chreaa deputy executive director and litigation manager Chikondi Chijozi, who authored the report, said in an interview earlier this week that during their investigations they discovered 26 more cases and their research found that about 28 people were indeed killed.
The study was undertaken between November 19 and December 17 last year in Blantyre, Mulanje, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Nsanje, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Lilongwe, Mzimba and Nkhata Bay. The research team also crossed the border into Mozambique and Zambia.
But Kadadzera assured the public that the police service does not kill arrested suspects or ex-convicts and that it will remain “vigilant and professional in dealing with all cases of armed robberies in the country”.
Since the preliminary report was issued various human rights bodies and individuals have called for an immediate independent probe into the allegations.
In September last year, our sister newspaper, Weekend Nation, traced scores of robbery suspects who died in dubious circumstances at the hands of police during the past months.