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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Zambian bishops say people live in fear as police brutality increases

Zambians are living in fear as police brutality increases and the southern African country approaches dictatorship, Zambia’s Catholic bishops said.

The bishops “are deeply saddened” by police officers’ “unprofessional and brutal conduct,” arbitrary arrests, “horrific torture of suspects,” and the “careless, inflammatory and divisive statements of our political leaders,” Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu of Lusaka, president of the bishops’ conference, said on 23rd April.

“Anyone who criticises the government for wrongdoing is sure to have the police unleashed on him or her,” he said.

Zambia’s main opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, was arrested and charged with treason for failing to move off the road for President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade in early April.

The charge allows no bail and can carry the death penalty.

While the bishops “do not in any way condone illegality,” they “deplore the massive, disproportionate and entirely unnecessary force with which the police acted in apprehending” Hichilema, Archbishop Mpundu said.

Picture: A police officer rides his motorcycle in Lusaka, Zambia. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/DPA/PA).