The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) and Council for Non-governmental organisations in Malawi (CONGOMA) have come up with a Civil Society Issues paper 2022/2023 describing the status of human rights in the country, and the paper indicates that the rights of people continue being violated under the Tonse Alliance Government.
The paper is titled a Call to Guaranteed Attainment and Consolidated of Human Rights in Malawi under the theme “Moving from Rhetoric -to Action.
Speaking on Wednesday 30 March, 2022, Leader of the group Robert Mkwezalamba who is the Board Chairperson of HRCC said as HRCC they do have the mandate to continue raising awareness in terms of protecting human rights and they do continue raising these issues with Government, but through their engagement with CONGOMA, they resolved to consolidate the issues of human rights in Malawi.
“We had to look at the violations of human rights that have been happening since 2020 when this new administration came into power and we realise that some of the violations have happened in the past and they continue to happen which means we have not changed.
“When we change the Government, the intention is to ensure that we would want to change the way things have been done and it’s sad that we still have those issues and these are the ones that motivated us to come up with a position paper,” he said.
Mkwezalamba noted that the constitution of Malawi prohibits torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and also the criminal procedures and evidence code also criminalizes mistreatment, intimidation, of grave insult by a person in a position of authority.
“As CSOs we have sadly noted grave departure from these commitments as seen in the existence of; arbitrary deprivation of life and other unlawful or politically motivated killings, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prison and detention center conditions, pre-trial detention and arbitrary arrests.
“There is also arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence. Another issue is freedom of expression, including for the press, internet freedom, freedoms of peaceful assembly and association,” explained Mkwezalamba.
Mkwezalamba also hinted that they have isolated the issues as some issues are supposed to go to Ministry of Justice and other issues will go to the Judiciary and some issues are supposed to go to the Ministry of Finance, so that they should take action on all the issues raised and if there will be no action taken by the departments they will present the issues directly to the President.
“There are issues of accountability, inadequate funding and the Minister of Finance has to come in. There are issues we need to take to them to say perhaps these departments have inadequate funding. There are issues we need to take to the Police through the Inspector General of Police.
“There are issues that we need to subject them to Civic education and awareness to the public on matters of taking the law in our own hands but over and above that is to push to ensure that where rights have been violated, justice has to prevail and that entails that Police and the Courts must work diligently to ensure that they protect the interest of its citizens,” said Mkwezalamba.
The CSOs also disclosed that Pre-trial detainees currently constitute at least 18 percent of the country’s prison population. They noted that there are several expired remand warrants and alleged torture by police when they want confessions from suspects in police cells.
During the presser, the organisations rebuked the divisions which are in Tonse Alliance saying thy are affecting the development of the country and the alliance partners need to resolve their issues so that the country can develop.
Mkwezalamba also noted that currently in Malawi there is a weak opposition with the never ending squabbles facing the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party-DPP and this is also affecting the Country’s development because when the country has a strong opposition the Government do things in a right way but right now the Government is at ease because it is not being pressured by the opposition side.