Police must act on political crimes

In the run-up to the 2013 general elections, scores of politically related crimes were committed throughout the country. These included physical assaults on political opponents, arson, malicious injury to property, intimidation and electoral fraud.

Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert

In the post-election period, politically motivated crime has surged again, with most of the reported cases related to retribution against people perceived to have voted for the “wrong” party or candidate. As we speak, numerous families have been evicted from their homes, assaulted or threatened with unspecified action for their political affiliation.

A good number of the victims of these crimes indeed went to the police to make reports. In a few cases, the reports were recorded, even though no further action was taken by the police. In some more brazen instances, the police advised the victims to return with their reports after the elections.

This would always be improper, of course, because the police should not postpone actioning reports whenever complainants come forth. In yet other cases, the police simply turned away the complainants, saying their hands were tied.

Be that as it may, the chickens must come back home to roost sooner or later. The police must drop their bias in matters political and attend to all cases that happened before, during and after the elections. They must go back to the complainants and take appropriate action, in the sacred name of justice and the rule of law.

We now urge all the people who went to report any politically-related case to renew their efforts to ensure that the culprits are brought to book. The political parties from which these victims come should also play a more proactive role in documenting the crimes and pushing for prosecution. They need to work hand-in-glove with other likeminded agents such as civil society and legal representatives who normally step in to help the poor and marginalised.

The police force is not supposed to promote partisan and sectarian interests, but must be impartial in the discharge of its duties. There is no way in which it should be permitted to apply the law selectively.

In the same breath, it is important for politically motivated cases that were committed in the past to be reactivated, again at the instigation of political parties and other players who should make the police accountable.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
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