Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has said the dismissal of Constable Esther Chiunjiza as a police recruit by Malawi Police Service (MPS) after her nude pictures went viral on social media was unjustified.
In an investigative report that MHRC has released on the matter, the commission says it is legal for anyone, either a police officer or a civilian, to take pictures for private use.
Deputy Inspector General of Malawi Police Service responsible for Administration Duncan Mwapasa told MHRC that Chiunjiza was dismissed for taking nude photos while at the barracks as a police recruit.
But the MHRC says such a ground is unjustified since Constable Chiunjiza had not committed any crime under the laws of Malawi either as a police officer or private citizen.
MHRC observes in the report that the fired police officer took the photos for private use in her phone but unruly people who are fellow police officers shared them first on the WhatsApp group called PTS GIRLS.
MHRC has in the report asked Chiunjiza to exercise right of appeal against her dismissal and that Inspector General of Police should find the police officers who shared the nude photos on various social media platforms.
The commission has since recommended that Chiunjiza must exercise her right to appeal against her dismissal to the High Court of Malawi in accordance with section 65 of the Police Act since she has exhausted all internal appeal mechanism set out in sections 63 and 64 of the Police Act.
“The Inspector General of Police must thoroughly and impartially invoke his powers under section 54(2) by ensuring that the investigations against all Police Officers who participated in posting of nude pictures of Constable Esther Chiunjiza on various social media as recommended by the Police Standards Unit are carried out and those responsible are dealt with in accordance with the law expeditiously.
“The Malawi Police Service Commission must take appropriate action against the Deputy Inspector General of Police for acting ultra vires and abuse of power in relation to his directive to the National Police Disciplinary Committee dated 8th March 2017 contrary to the clear provisions of section 58 of the Police Act,” says one of the recommendations in the investigative report.