Lusaka, 15th June 2020 – The Zambia Police Service Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for COVID-19, launched on 11th June 2020, serves to safeguard human rights particularly of vulnerable citizens and provides guiding principles to security and law enforcement officers in responding to the pandemic.
The Standard Operating Procedure, which is part of a UN-wide COVID-19 Response to Zambia, recognizes that police men and women are a critical part of the response. Law enforcement officers are at the frontline of the fight not only at ports of entry but also within communities as they act as pro-active agents who can help contribute to public awareness measures encouraging citizen to adopt positive behaviours and adhere to prevention measures. Thus, day-to-day interaction between law enforcement agents and citizens creates strong opportunities for containment or the farther spread of the virus.
At the launch, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Lionel Laurens has said that, “during such periods, its vital that international human rights standards are maintained and that vulnerable groups are protected. Our support, which includes the SOP, will equip the security and law enforcement sector in Zambia with information, tools and skills to deal with the COVID-19. This includes ensuring information on COVID-19 for law enforcement, materials to reduce risk of contamination for law enforcement officers, business continuity, dealing with citizens particularly offenders of new restrictions, and general public sensitization on safeguarding human rights in the context of COVID-19.”
And highlighting the UN’s experience and technical approach, UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio has underscored that the SOP is an important blueprint that “the Zambia Police Service may utilize for years to come and adapt in response to other global pandemics that may impact citizens. The UN’s technical approach and expertise offers stakeholders opportunities to consider the Human Rights impact of COVID-19 and safeguarding progress towards achieving the SDGs, including addressing stigma and discrimination arising from its spread and supporting marginalized people and vulnerable populations”.
The Zambia Police Inspector General, Kakoma Kanganja observed that with a force of approximately 20,000 personnel country-wide, Zambia Police Service provides a key service. He emphasised that the SOP “has been tailored to adequately meet modern policing strategies” and that it “inherently recognises the need for all Zambia Police Service officers to uphold human rights and respect gender in the course of their duty during this period and beyond.”
The UNDP programmatic and policy offer builds upon past experience with the Ebola and Zika epidemics as well as pandemics including HIV, TB and malaria, and a long history of working together with countries and communities – with the public and private sector - to prepare for, mitigate, and tackle complexity and crisis with the necessary urgency. Against this backdrop, UNDP in contributing to develop this SOP capitalized on its long-standing partnership with the Zambia Police Service and the Human Rights Commission (HRC), tapped into its global network of expertise to draw technical support from the UN Police, UNDP New York and the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights.
This intervention is part of the wider UN response to COVID-19 in Zambia in support of the Government of Zambia’s Multisectoral COVID-19 Contingency and Response Plan and complements the strong collaborative efforts from the Government, civil society, private sector and all development partners to end COVID-19.