The Malawi Police Service has been cautioned on the use of violence as a measure of enforcing a Covid-19 prevention regulation of wearing face masks in public.
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Michael Kaiyatsa, expressed concern over reported harassment of drivers and beating up of pedestrians not wearing face masks in public.
The organization believes that the use of violence by the police in enforcement of Covid-19 preventive measures will not be effective as it will do more harm than good.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, police officers in Lilongwe were spotted harassing drivers and beating up pedestrians not wearing face masks at market places, bus depots and on the streets under the guise of enforcing covid-19 measures.
The act has angered the human rights organization, which notes that violence by police may deliver short-term compliance but cannot be part of an effective strategy to contain the Coronavirus.
In the statement, the Kaiyatsa argues that there is a risk of resistance by the citizenry, where extreme policing measures are applied without due caution and consideration.
According to CHRR, the authorities need to get the public to comply and change their behavior in as far as prevention of Covid-19 is concerned, whether Police are watching or not.
The authorities have also been urged to respect the rule of law and human rights principles in which Malawi’s governance structure is rooted.
“While it is true that some human rights may be limited during an emergency in order to protect public health and safety, such restrictions according to section 44(1) of the Malawi constitution, must be prescribed by law, reasonable, recognized by international human rights standards and necessary in an open and democratic society,” reads part of the statement.
Since Covid-19 cases started escalating over the past week, more people in the country have been dying from the virus as compared to the past months.
Those affected and infected with COVID-19 include government officials and cabinet ministers, a development that has sparked the need for seriousness in observing Covid-19 prevention measures.
As cases continue to rise, with over 200 cases recorded every day, President Lazarus Chakwera declared the pandemic a national disaster.