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Zambians Laud Govt Crime-Fighting Efforts but Cite Police for Lack of Professionalism

In late June, the Law Association of Zambia issued a statement condemning brutality and abuse of citizens, particularly members of the political opposition, by Zambia’s police (Lusaka Times, 2023a).

It was hardly the first high-level expression of concern about abuses by members of the Zambia Police Service. In December, the country’s Human Rights Commission voiced alarm about continued complaints of police brutality, prolonged detention, and extra-judicial killings (Muchinshi, 2022). Recent criticism by civil society groups has highlighted the extended detention without formal charges of a former state house special adviser (Tembo, 2023; Lusaka Times, 2023b). The Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops condemned police brutality after the deaths of two protesters (Okoth, 2021). The 2022 Zambia Bribe Payers Index cites high levels of corruption among the police (Anti-Corruption Commission, 2023). And Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has called on the police to rebuild public trust through professionalism and integrity (Zambia Daily Mail, 2021).

How do ordinary Zambians see their police?

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2023) questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and assessments of police professionalism.

In Zambia, citizens express significant levels of personal insecurity but give the government a positive rating on its performance in reducing crime.

However, the police are widely seen as corrupt, and among citizens who encountered the police during the previous year, almost half say they had to pay a bribe. Many say that officers routinely use excessive force with suspected criminals and protesters and stop drivers without good reason, and few think the police usually act in a professional manner and respect all citizens’ rights.

Edward Chibwili Edward Chibwili is the national investigator for Zambia.

Source: allAfrica