Home » Judicial » Parly – Cops Not Fit to Prosecute in Court

POLICE officers should not be allowed to prosecute in the magistrates courts as this compromises the justice delivery system, parliament has said.

A Human Rights thematic committee report tabled in the senate on Wednesday, states that the continued use of police officers as state prosecutors is compromising the impartiality of the courts.

“The committee remains concerned at the continued engagement of police prosecutors in the justice delivery system.

“This compromises the independence of the national prosecution authority as police officers are members of the executive, who as law enforcement agents are tasked with investigating the same crime that they then prosecute as police prosecutors,” read the report tabled by Mike Nyambuya, the committee chairperson.

The committee said after receiving evidence from various stakeholders in the country, government must improve the conditions of service for state prosecutors to attract the best lawyers into that department so that police officers and other state agencies are not allowed to prosecute on behalf of the state.

“The committee urges government to expedite the construction of courts, as well as equipping the courts with relevant tools of trade to increase access to justice for citizens,” the report stated.

Due to lack of qualified lawyers in the state prosecution department, police officers and prison wardens have taken up the role to prosecute on behalf of the state but human rights lawyers and experts have said this is demeaning their profession as cops are not fully trained to appreciate the law and rights of citizens.

The committee further said that government should ensure that the legal aid directorate is accessible not only in Harare and Bulawayo, but countrywide to ensure that citizens have access to state lawyers whenever they cannot afford to hire private practitioners.

Source : New Zimbabwe