Following complaints from some sections of society, including the lawyers representing Petauke Central Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. Emmanuel Jay Banda, that his family members were not allowed to visit him at Maina Soko Military Hospital, the Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) visited the MP in hospital today, 28th May 2024.

The Commission was concerned at the reports because any patient or person held in custody has a right to be visited and communicate with family members, legal representatives and medical officers.

The Officers and Medical personal at Maina Soko Military Hospital explained that at no time did they refuse any family member to visit or communicate with Mr. Banda. They explained that from the time Mr. Banda was admitted, all his wives were allowed to be by his bed side while his sisters and other relatives were also allowed to visit him.

The Commission had an opportunity to interact with Mr. Banda and found all his three wives by his bedside. Mr. Banda himself confirmed that his family members were allowed to visit him from the time he was admitted.

Mr. Banda who narrated his abduction ordeal explained that he was tortured, particularly under the feet, but the pain was subsiding and he was now able to freely walk unlike when he was admitted. He commended the professional conduct of medical officers at Maina Soko Military Hospital from the time he was admitted. However, he expressed the desire to re-unite with his family, particularly his children, preferably “at the farm”.

In this vein, the Commission calls on the police to expedite investigations into the reported abduction of Mr. Banda and closely work with the medical officers at Maina Soko Military Hospital as well as his family members to ensure that he does not remain admitted longer than is absolutely necessary in order to quicken his psychological healing.

It must be noted that the abduction of Mr. Banda sow seeds of discord in the country, a situation that has potential to result into widespread violation of human rights if not properly and urgently addressed. Therefore, there is urgent need to expeditiously, but thoroughly investigate the matter and subject the perpetrators to the due process of the law in order to end impunity of the dreadful criminal act of abduction.

Further, the Commission is calling upon the State to improve communication with the family members of Mr. Banda and the nation at large so that there is understanding and appreciation that the measures that are being undertaken are in their best interest and not meant to victimise them.

Mweelwa Muleya

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