MANEPO and MHRC condemn attacks against elderly persons

Mob assault Older women accused of witchcraft in Mzimba, Malawi

Malawi Network of the Elderly Person’s Organisation (MANEPO ) and Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) have condemned continued attacks and killings of elderly persons in the country over witchcraft allegations.

In a press statement signed by MHRC Executive Secretary, Habiba Osman, and MANEPO Country Director, Andrew Kavala, the two organisations state that each and every week elderly persons are killed, beaten, banished and their property destroyed on accusations of practicing witchcraft.

The press statement further state that there are 59 cases awaiting prosecution since 2014.

“We wish to state that Article 5 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that none should be subjected to torture, or to cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, ” reads the MANEPO and MHRC statement.

The organisations note in their statement that African Union Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Elderly Persons in Africa recently signed by President Lazarus Chakwera call for each African state to be responsible for developing and reviewing existing legislation to ensure elderly persons receive equal treatment and protection and ensure that law enforcement officers at all levels are trained to effectively interpret and enforce policies and legislations to protect the rights of elderly persons.

The press statement also reminds the public that Witchcraft Act of 1911 does not recognize existence of witchcraft and that the Act states that it is an offence to accuse a person of witchcraft.

“We therefore anticipate government’s quick action to finalize review of Act of Witchcraft of 2011 which will also provide protection to elderly persons against these attacks and other violations based on allegations of practicing witchcraft due to their age,” says the press statementt.

MANEPO and MHRC state that they acknowledge government’s efforts in stopping the killing of elderly persons including arresting and prosection of perpetuators but would wish the Judiciary to do timely prosecution and give perpetrators stiffer penalties that will deter would be perpetuators and in turn safeguard the rights of elderly persons.

” Even the National Policy for Older Persons recognize the duty of state to protect rights of elderly persons, we also urge every person to promote and protect the rights of elderly person by working hand in hand with law enforcement agents including reporting all perpetuators to ensure they face the law,” reads part of the statement.

The two rights bodies have further reminded the public that respect of human right including rights of elderly persons is everyone’s responsibility.

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