CHRR calls for wide consultations on proposed Peace Commission Bill

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has asked the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity to publicize information relating to the proposed National Peace Commission Bill.

Kaiyatsa: CHRR considers the development of the National Peace Commission Bill as a sign that the government is committed to promoting unity and peaceful co-existence in the country.

The human rights body has further asked the ministry to conduct wide consultations with all critical stakeholders, including victims of human rights abuses of past regimes, on the latest version of the Bill before it is tabled in Parliament.

CHRR executive director Michael Kaiyatsa stresses that this is critical in the development of a law that will serve all Malawians.

Kaiyatsa has made the sentiments in a statement he issued on Wednesday.

“CHRR considers the development of the National Peace Commission Bill as a sign that the government is committed to promoting unity and peaceful co-existence in the country.

“As such, there is an urgent need to make sure that everyone, including the victims past human rights abuses, have an opportunity to share their perspectives while there is still time, and before the bill is finalized,” he says.

Kaiyatsa has further urged the government to ensure that there is support and political will so that the proposed National Peace Commission Bill should be successful in achieving sustainable peace and unity in the country.

He says one way to achieve this is through wide consultations with all critical stakeholders.

“In this regard, CHRR is concerned that there has not been sufficient public input or consultation on this Bill. Our interaction with communities shows that they know nothing about this Bill, which raises concern that the government is going ahead with this Bill without really talking to the people that are going to be directly or indirectly affected by it,” emphasizes Kaiyatsa.

He cautions the government against pushing the bill without seeking people’s input, warning that this will backfire.

“Consulting the people who will be affected by the Bill to make sure that they know what this proposed legislation is all about, that they understand what is it is and that they see the merits of it, is consistent with section 12 (1) (a) of the Republican Constitution of Malawi, which clearly states that “All legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution solely to serve and protect their interests,” continues the statement.

To this effect, Kaiyatsa has reminded the government about Section 12 (1) (c) of the same Constitution of Malawi, which states that “the authority to exercise power of State is conditional upon the sustained trust of the people of Malawi and that trust can only be maintained through open, accountable and transparent Government and informed democratic choice”.

“Our belief is that before any law is passed in parliament citizens ought to be consulted democratically in a transparent, Inclusiveness, accessible and open manner in order for the citizens to provide their interests to any public policy issue before it is made either into law or policy. Ensuring that the Bill is properly and publicly scrutinized is therefore also important considering the nature and possible implications of this Bill on efforts to achieve sustainable peace and unity in this country and to heal the wrongs of past regimes,” he emphasizes.

The Minister of Civic Education and National Unity Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo assured that all the stakeholders will be consulted before the Bill is taken to Parliament.

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