Malawi human rights groups have condemned government authorities for criminalising peaceful demonstrations, describing the move as worrying, aggressive and censorious.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep) have condemned government for its stand in banning pro-federalism demonstrations slated for 28 September, 2014 organised by the Karonga Youth for Justice and Development.
“We have learnt with great shock the government’s decision [through the district commissioner] to “bar” a certain local grouping from holding a peaceful demonstration.
CHRR and CEDEP said they view such a decision as not only retrogressive but also” a complete departure from the democratic path which Malawians chose to pursue since 1993.”
The rights campaigner believes that such decisions are clearly a reminiscent of the old DPP regime which used to derive satisfaction on tramping on the citizens’ freedoms of assembly and expression as evident in the build-up and during the July 20 demonstrations.
CHRR boss Timothy Mtambo and CEDEP head Gift Trapence are asking the ruling DPP to seriously guard against this abuse of human rights.
“The right to hold peaceful demonstration, freedom of assembly and expression are clearly spelt out in both the Republican constitution under the bill of rights chapter 4 as well as in other prominent international human rights instruments which Malawi is party to including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR). As such, it is incumbent upon the government let alone any government official to embrace such fundamental human rights and freedom, and vigilantly work towards the protection and promotion of such,” the rights campaigners said.
The groups believe that determination of the validity of issues or reasons behind one’s proposed demonstration should never be used as a scapegoat to bar the citizens from freely and peacefully exercising such fundamental freedom.