Chanco law students march to support court strike

Chanco law students march to increase pressure on the executive to address court clerks concerns. Photo Makhumbo Munthali/Nyasa Times

University of Malawi’s Chancellor College law students on Friday protested to support court clerks who have been striking for higher pay across Malawi.

The students staged a peaceful march within the college’s premises in easter city of Zomba aimed at pressurizing government to immediately act on the foregoing concerns.

In a two-paged petition addressed to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Office of the President and Cabinet, the students state that they are concerned with the delay in resolving the saga.

They appeal to the Executive branch of the government to treat the matter with the utmost urgency.

“As would-be lawyers, we are to be in a profession that strives to see justice achieved and whenever there is an injustice occasioned it becomes a matter of our concern.

“It is our considered view that the authorities ought to take necessary steps to enable their employees enjoy the rights and privileges accorded to them by the law,” reads part of the petition signed by Chisomo Nyemba (Students Law Society President) and Wanangwa Hara (Students Law Society Liaison Officer).

Students state that “there is a High Court authority to the effect that once the National Assembly has in its wisdom determined the terms and conditions of the service of the Judiciary, it becomes the duty of the executive to implement such determination. Any refusal of such can thus be deemed to be in breach of the Constitution.”

Judges have been unable to work without stenographers, marshals and clerks. Police say jails are crowded because bail hearings are stalled.

The students’ protest comes barely four days after lawyers across the country staged another march to express their concerns on the same.

Despite government’s recent directive to force them resume work, the Judiciary workers have vowed not to return to work unless their demands are met.

Denied justice

The law students also observe that the delayed resolution to the ongoing industrial action is already having undesirable impact on the public as access to justice and legal remedy is under threat.

The students therefore strongly recommend that: “The judiciary has to be functional, judicial workers’ legitimate expectations ought to be met, and the same time the citizenry ought to have access to justice.”

The strikers say they won’t return to work until they get increases of 40 percent promised in 2006 and 50 percent promised in 2009. Clerks earn an average of 16,200 kwacha ($100) a month.

Police say jails are crowded because bail hearings are stalled.

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