Police Arrest of Minor “unwarranted, serious breach of rights”: Caritas Zambia

Logo of CAritas Zambia. Credit: Caritas Zambia

Caritas Zambia has decried the arrest of an eight-year-old boy, allegedly apprehended for fighting with a 12-year-old girl, describing the police action as “unwarranted” and in “serious breach” of the boy’s rights.

In a statement, officials of the development and humanitarian arm of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) say the arrest that saw the boy spend July 11 night at Matero Police Station in Zambia's capital city, Lusaka, was against the Children’s Code Act of 2022 that calls for protection of minors.

“The 8-year-old boy's arrest was unwarranted and a serious breach of his rights as a child,” Caritas Zambia officials say in the July 14 statement.

They add, “We strongly condemn the actions of the Zambia police officer(s) who initiated an arrest of a minor and demand a thorough investigation into the matter and ensure that all erring officers face disciplinary action in order to deter other officers from taking similar actions in the future.”

“It is so disheartening to see such things happening in this age and time when the country has so many laws that have been enacted to support the protection, promotion, and fulfillment of children's rights and wellbeing,” Caritas Zambia officials say.


Making reference to the Children’s Code Act 12 of 2022, Caritas officials in Zambia say, “A person under the age of fourteen (14) is not criminally responsible for an act or omission.”

They also say they find it regrettable that many key actors in the Southern African nation lack knowledge on child safeguarding and the interpretation of the law that seeks to protect minors.

“It is a shame that a ‘law enforcement agent,’ whose job it is to assist in the interpretation and application of laws, is the person who committed this act,” they say in the two-page statement that the Programs Specialist, Child Protection and Peacebuilding, Ms. Matanga Munkonze, signed.

Caritas officials also fault the allegations of corruption implicating the police officer involved, who is said to have demanded a bribe from the boy’s relatives before releasing him on July 12.

If the corruption allegations are true, the Caritas Zambia officials say every Zambian needs to strongly condemn it “with any sense of decency”. 

More in Africa

“We urge the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to seriously take interest in this matter,” they say.

In the statement, the officials blame the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) and other key actors for poor coordination that led to the arrest of the minor.

“The question is where is the collaboration?" they pose, and add, "We demand strong coordination and clear mechanisms among key actors of handling such cases involving children, if such occurrences are to be fully addressed.”

Caritas Zambia officials also fault the exposition of the boy to the media, saying it caused psychological trauma to him and his family.

“We would like to call upon the MCDSS and Victim Support Unit (VSU) to work together and provide the psychosocial support needed to the victim and his family to help them come out of the traumatic distress they have been exposed to in the past few days,” they say.


The officials urge MCDSS and VSU to keep off the media while providing services. 

In protecting the boy and the family from further Psychological trauma, Caritas officials in Zambia “urge the media and the General public to stop circulating the images of the boy and his family for the safety of the child and his entire family.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.