Malawi Police Brutality against Refugees and Property Dispossession

Refugees in Malawi

Malawi Police have been accused of beating refugees and subjecting children to harsh prison conditions during a government-led refugee relocation exercise.

On Wednesday, May 17, 2023, the police raided the homes and shops of predominantly Burundian and Rwandan refugees in Dzaleka Refugee Camp.

Serious allegations have surfaced that refugees and asylum seekers were beaten and had their property taken away. The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has launched an investigation into the allegations.

Refugees have responsibilities

It is important to acknowledge that refugees have responsibilities. They should not engage in subversive activities that endanger the security of the host country or act against the principles and purposes of the United Nations.

Refugees have basic needs

The basic needs of refugees include access to water, clothing, shelter, and food for their families. These needs can be an overwhelming burden, particularly during times of fear and uncertainty.

Refugees have rights

According to international humanitarian law, refugees require protection and are entitled to a privileged status. Once granted refugee status in a host country, they cannot be deported. In contrast, migrants lack legal protection and can be deported at any time.

International law protects refugees

International humanitarian law, refugee law, and human rights law are complementary bodies of law that share the common goal of protecting the lives, health, and dignity of individuals.

Refugees want to work and contribute

What refugees desire most is the opportunity to work and contribute to their communities. Like anyone else, they seek a life of dignity, freedom, and security.

Refugees are often mistreated

Regrettably, refugees are often subjected to mistreatment. This mistreatment includes exposure to unsanitary conditions, severe overcrowding, inadequate food and water quality, insufficient nutrition and healthcare, violence, and torture by security forces. There have even been instances of beatings, rape, and the smuggling of children. These vulnerable individuals are not being granted the rightful protection they deserve.

The Malawi Police must refrain from violence

The Malawi Police, Immigration Department, and Citizenship Services must refrain from taking the law into their own hands when performing their duties. Police violence is a significant concern in many countries worldwide, unfortunately including Malawi. The Malawi Police can improve their approach by avoiding the use of violence and theft when making arrests, particularly when dealing with refugees and asylum seekers.

Call for action

The international community must take action to protect refugees from violence and mistreatment. We must hold the Malawi Police accountable for their actions and ensure that refugees are treated with dignity and respect.