Legal experts have warned of possible lawsuits against government from the suspects who are being remanded in custody beyond the constitutional 48-hour period due to the ongoing strike by the judicial staff.
The court support staff have been on strike for a week now to force government to harmonise salary increments with civil servants, a development that has seen people being denied access to justice.
The Mzuzu based private lawyer George Kadzipatike says the government is doing injustice to Malawians by letting one of its arms paralyzed without finding an immediate solution.
“I can say that we are now in a crisis,” he said, adding “nowhere the flamers of the constitution indicated that one of the three arms of the government would be paralyzed.
“This means that the current situation in which the judiciary is paralyzed is abnormal, therefore there is great need to return it to its normalcy,” said Kadzipatike in an interview with Nyasa Times.
He said there is great possibility that the government would cough a lot of money through compensations should the suspects who are kept in custody beyond the 48-hour period decide to sue the government.
“I don’t think the judiciary strike would be a valid excuse for the illegal keeping of the suspects,” he said.
Executive Director for Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) Victor Mhango also said the strike has made some convicts or suspects to stay in custody illegally due to the expiry of their warrants.
“It is only the courts that renew that warrant once they have expired. Many of those in custody had their warrants expired some time back, so here we can say that prisons are keeping many people unlawfully,” he said.
He said there is no access to justice, which is a constitutional right. Consequently, human rights and the Constitution have been being violated. For example, the Constitution provides that suspects can be detained for only 48 hours within which time they must be brought before a court. Otherwise, they must be released.
He noted that there must have been numerous cases of illegal detention and detention without trial. It is likely that a lot of taxpayers’ money will be wasted in civil suits against government on this account.
Statistics show that about the number of inmate has risen from the 5,000 to about 13,000 .
Inspector General (IG) of Police Lot Dzonzi has admitted that courts strike has hit the Malawi Police Service hard, creating overpopulation in holding cells, among others.
He said police will be forced to release on bail suspects who have committed minor offences, especially those that will be able to report for bail and can be traced in case they jump bail.
Lawyers, whose work is mainly court-based, have also been struggling to earn their bread and butter.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :