Police cannot halt demos – Expert

A Chancellor College based law expert says the Malawi Police Service (MPS) is not mandated by law to stop people from holding demonstrations in the country.

The advice follows a letter which the Inspector General (IG) of Police Rodney Jose has issued to the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) demanding the coalition to stop convening protests.

But commenting on the letter, Professor Garton Kamchedzera told YONECO FM Online  in an interview that the Malawi Police Service does not have authority to stop people from protesting in the country by applying the Police Act.

“The Police have no authority under the provision they are trying to evoke to stop any demonstration, they have power to notify, and they should have exercised that power not to demand compliance with what they think should be the case,” Professor Kamchedzera said.

According to the Police IG, there has been a worrisome number of cases of injury to persons and damage of property during demonstrations that the HRDC has been convening after the May 21 polls.

But when asked about police`s reluctance or inability to protect people when protesting, Professor Kamchedzera said the police in this case will be responsible for any damage caused therein.

“There is likely to be curse and the fault will have to go to the police because it is their duty to make sure that they provide the protection for property and for people,” he said.

Meanwhile, HRDC has told the local media that it yet to comment on the development because they have not been served with the IG letter.

According to HRDC, the nationwide anti-Jane Ansah demonstrations are scheduled to resume on Tuesday and Thursday if the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson fails to step down.

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