Courts asking for unreasonable bail conditions – Ndulo

By Staff Reporter

US-based law Professor, Muna Ndulo has questioned the recent emergency of what he has termed unreasonable bail conditions imposed on accused persons by Zambian courts.

In most political cases lately, courts have been asking for, among other bail conditions, sureties that work in particular institutions such as the government, and holding certain positions.

But Prof Ndulo, in a lengthy article sent to NewsDay Zambia, argued that such conditions were unconstitutional.

“What this means is that bail conditions ought to be reasonable. An unreasonable bail condition defeats the sacrosanct doctrine and rule of presumption of innocence which forms the desideratum of our accusatorial system of the administration of justice,” he said.

“This pushes one to ask a number of fundamental questions regarding the festering culture of imposing unconscionable bail conditions in the Zambian criminal justice administration in the present moment. For instance, why should sureties be employees of a given entity? On what rational basis can one argue that a surety needs to be a Government employee or indeed an employee of any other entity?”

He wondered how a person that has defamed the government would get a surety from a civil servant.

“Is it reasonable to expect that a person accused of defaming the government or any public official can easily get a civil servant from the same government – the accuser – to serve as surety on his behalf?  It is argued therefore that imposing impossible conditions of bail is an unequivocal denial of bail to an accused person,” contended Prof Ndulo.

“Bail conditions which unreasonably interfere with an accused’s constitutional rights are invalid. They are injudicious and disingenuous – to put it mildly.”