Thursday, September 24, 2020

Lawyers support establishment of independent complaints directorate

Joba Nnoi of Lobatse is amongst lawyers calling for the establishment of an independent complaints directorate to investigate cases of alleged abuse and torture by the Botswana Police Service.
According to him, the establishment of the directorate would be very helpful in making sure that abuse and torture accusations that are directed against the police are investigated by independent people.

Currently, police officers are expected to investigate their colleagues who are alleged to have mistreated people. This makes some people to doubt the authenticity of such investigations.
This, he said, is like asking a lawyer to be a judge in his own court. The composition of such a body can be composed of retired judges and police investigators.

Such a body could help the police to avoid being accused of protecting their colleagues. The body can even be more relevant currently following the unprecedented surge in numbers of suspects who are alleged to have died in police custody.

Such a body exists in South Africa and many other countries. The chairman of the Law Society of Botswana, Tebogo Sebego, agrees with Nnoi that such a body is needed to investigate accusations labelled against the police.

He says that the body should be set up within the police. Another lawyer said that he supports calls for an independent body to investigate allegations of brutality and abuse against the police because he has seen evidence that police sometimes torture suspects only to deny it afterwards.
He showed pictures of victims who were allegedly tortured by the police. The pictures, he said, showed bruises on suspects’ bodies.

The police denied that the suspects had been tortured by them even though they spent days in their custody. Other cases that raise suspicion, he said, are instances where police shoot and kill all suspects without being injured.
These untruths can only be revealed by independent investigators and not the police officers who stand accused in the first place, he suggested.

Botswana Police Service public relations officer, Superintendent Christopher Mbulawa, says they are open to suggestions from the public.

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