CEDEP, CHRR in two-day training for human rights defenders

Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) and the Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation—two vocal rights groupings—have organised a two-day training for human rights defenders in the country presently being held in Malawi’s administrative capital Lilongwe.

Human rights defenders in group photo

The meeting is with funding from the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), and is being facilitated by Blessing Gorojena, an international law expert from Zimbabwe of human rights defenders.

Gorojena said it “is important to identify the wider protection cause” for all human rights defenders in Malawi.

According to her, human rights defenders continue to face a number of risks and hurdles in doing their work.

She said it was important that the defenders understand the environment they work in in order to create an “enabling” environment in the course of doing their work.

Resident UNDP advisor on human rights in the country, Neil Gilmore, said UN is human rights concerns in the country.

Said Gilmore: “The United Nations (UN) is concerned with an increase in harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders [in the country].”

And in an interview with Nyasa Times on Wednesday both CEDEP’s Gift Trapence and CHRR’s Timothy Mtambo said the training was “crucial.”

According to Mtambo, there are people in the country working as merely human rights workers and not defenders.

“That is why they are always changing tune and colours,” said Mtambo.

Karonga Youth for Justice and Development (KYJD) executive director, Stevenson Simusokwe, described the training as an eye-opener.

Simusokwe said the training will help him deal with the issues of security in as far as his activism is concerned.

“As activists, we continue to face a number of challenges in the scope of our work and we are thankful to the organisers for the training,” said Simusokwe.

Simusokwe and his KYJD were at the forefront to bring Paladin Africa Limited (PAL)—ex-miners of the Kayerekela Uranium Mine—to task over differences on implementation of the former’s social corporate responsibilities,

Other human rights defenders and stakeholders attending the meeting include Youth and Society (YAS), Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and Malawi Law Society (MLS).

Media houses attending are Nyasa Times, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), Times Group, Nation Publications Limited (NPL) and state-broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

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