COURT of appeal President Justice Fulgency Chisanga says suspects and accused persons facing bailable and bondable offences should be accorded the opportunity to exercise their right to apply for police bond and bail as the case may be to enjoy their rights to liberty.
Justice Mrs Chisanga said this in a speech at the Bail and Bond Validation Workshop which was held at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka yesterday.
Justice Mrs Chisanga said the move is not only done to uphold the rule of law but also to assist in decongesting the correctional facilities which were currently over crowded.
She said that she was aware of the problems that all the institutions involved in the administration of justice faced as they endeavoured to undertake their different roles.
Justice Mrs Chisanga stated non-compliance by the accused persons to fulfil bail and bond conditions thereby jumping bail and difficulties in tracing absconding accused persons especially in the rural areas as well as poor intra institutional network amongst the players in the justice system were but some of the challenges.
She said police bond and court bail were the mechanisms through which persons in conflict with the law could continue to enjoy their right to liberty.
Justice Mrs Chisanga further said it was unpleasant that in fact, the right to liberty was often abused by the various players in the criminal justice system.
She said excessive pre-trial detention often led to the breach of the human rights of the detainees as they were subjected to the conditions that were inhuman and violate their dignity and personal integrity.
Justice Mrs Chisanga stated that it was unacceptable for an accused person facing a bondable or bailable offence to be in pre-trial detention for a period commensurate to the sentence carried by the offence which he or she was charged.
She however called stakeholders to give their full commitment to the process and ensure that workable and practical resolutions were arrived at and that the judiciary should be the pillar and defender of justice and create a criminal justice system that evoked confidence and upheld the rule of law.
And Acting Human Rights Commission vice chairperson Kondwa Sakala has expressed concern over the increasing and alarming rate at which many accused persons were spending the duration of their trial in dentation despite the existence of alternatives to pre-trial detention such as police bond or court bail.
Ms Sakala said detainees had no access to lawyers as most of the detainees in police and prison facilities were poor and disadvantaged apart them being subjected to torture and other forms of inhuman and ill-treatment.
Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja has directed police officers in charge of police Stations to avoid over detentions but to proceed with the cases quickly to court or where possible release suspects on police bond to avoid overcrowding in police cells.