Elton, one of our paralegals, blogs about our most recent police training session…
Our training targeted Police officers with an aim of reminding them of the rights of suspects as stipulated in the Constitution (Section 42 (2) (e)), Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code and in the Bail Guideline Act 2000.
Every accused or suspect has a right to be released with or without bail at Police or court.
The training was attended by twenty six (26) Police officers from different departments of the Police who deal with crimes. It was fruitful and we emphasized the pillars of the project being :-
- The Distribution of Bail Message Booklets – we explained to them what is contained in the booklet and how it can be used the suspects and the simple procedures which suspects can use to apply for police bail.
- Training For police Officers -we expounded more on the need for us to have more interactions with police officers handling bail applications so that they are up to date on procedures of handling bail applications and clear myths that are there between police and community and bring the picture of how the public views the conduct of police officers.
- Bail Audio Message -we also talked of radio player which will be placed at Blantyre police station with audio message on how and to whom a suspect can ask for police bail.
- Toll Free Lines -We also informed them of the 24/7 toll free lines which are there for suspected persons or relatives of suspects to acquire information on bail procedures and actual assistance when the need arises.
During the training the participants were open in plenary discussions where, among other things, Officers raised concerns from their department including:
*The officers argued on the audio message about police bail saying that the police bail can have monetary conditions which is non cash but it can only be to be paid in court so they said we should advocate that police bail is free.
* The officers requested for amendment of the booklet on page (5) five which advises the suspected person to point out that he might relocate in order not to interfere with witnesses and It might encourage people to evade bail, we responded by saying that this helps the court to have the trust that this person will not interfere with witnesses.
* They raised the issue of court bail on serious offences like granting bail to murder suspects which the police had problems to apprehend. It’s believed that they may become a more hardended criminal. If they evade bail the police have to search for a second time.We responded by saying the duty of granting bail rest in the hands of court, beyond the jurisdiction of police.
Overall, this was a successful training and we plan to do more in the future to further these discussion points and emphasize the pillars of the Malawi Bail Project.