The law relating to false imprisonment: whether police officers are liable for arbitrary arrests
The right to liberty is a human right that is embodied in various legal conventions across the globe. Even though it can be derogated in certain circumstances, depriving someone of their liberty is a grave breach of human rights since the bottom line values human dignity. A person’s liberty is deemed to have been violated after closely looking at two factors; firstly, one is actually arrested or detained by law enforcement authorities. Secondly, the legality of the arrest or detention per se becomes subject to consideration. In this aspect, the burden lies on the arresting authority to prove beyond any reasonable doubt if indeed that arrest or detention was effected in accordance with the law. Accordingly, when it is established by law that one was arrested or detained without any legal reason or process regardless of whether a crime was committed or debt due, then the term ‘arbitrary arrest’ or ‘false imprisonment’ comes into effect. This phenomenon obviously demands that law enforcement officials should not only be professional but also law conscious when discharging duties to avoid acting ultra vires. This article briefly looks at the law relating to false imprisonment let alone whether police officers may be liable for arbitrary arrests.
Human rights, being an international term, refers to the universal legal guarantees that protect individuals and groups against actions by governments that interfere with fundamental freedoms and human dignity. Freedom from arbitrary arrest denotes the right to liberty as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. International legal instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also provide that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such...