Police’s ability to manage crowds questioned

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The Media Advocates for the Advancement of Child Rights (MAACR) has called for the highlighting of Malawi police officers’ lapses in public management following the stampede that led to death of 7 children during the 53rd independence celebrations in Lilongwe.

According to a statement issued by MAACR and signed by its president Mallick Mnera, preliminary reports suggest that police fired teargas as they tried to contain people who were pressing to find their way into Bingu National Stadium ahead of a match between Silver Strikers and Nyasa Big Bullets.

One of the victims at the stampede.

“We urge journalists to highlight lapses in police public management systems in riots that involve people of different age groups. Just last month, we called on media practitioners to do the same when the police fired teargas and dispersed pupils rioting in Balaka, Ntcheu and Blantyre,” reads the statement.

According to the statement, police officers assigned to control the situation at BNS performed their duty unprofessionally.

“Without prejudice to any enquiry on the current matter, police officers deployed to manage the crowd should all the times execute their duties professionally. Such professional conduct should take cognizance of prevailing child protection principles.

“Police officers need to be held accountable for failing to execute their duties having reasonably assessed risk of their subsequent public management action,” says the statement.

MAACR has also defended women who sent their children to BNS without guidance saying authorities have a role to manage public order without using excessive violence or tactics that expose children to greater danger.

“Children have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by article 15 of convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It is therefore imperative that police should at all times recognise the need to make their public order methods child-friendly,” says the statement.

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