CHRR’s Mtambo declare war against impunity, talks tough at SADC forum

Malawi’s renowned human rights and governance activist Timothy Mtambo challenged African leaders, lawyers, and civil society leaders on the continent to declare war against impunity for the gravest crimes of international concern if Africa is to become a better place to live in.

Mtambo (2nd from left): African leaders should be assessed by their commitment to good governance and justice

Mtambo (2nd from left): African leaders should be assessed by their commitment to good governance and justice

The outspoken Mtambo, who is also the executive director of Malawi’s Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), made these remarks during the 16th annual SADC Lawyers Association Conference and General Meeting currently underway at Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dares Salaam, Tanzania.

The meeting is being held under the theme “Using the Law to strengthen good governance practices and to facilitate socio, economic and political transformation in the SADC region”.

Said Mtambo: “Fighting impunity requires not only time and determination. It also requires political support and commitment. Let’s all directly participate in the fight against impunity for the gravest crimes so that those responsible for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity –whoever they are and wherever they are – can be held accountable for crimes that gravely offend human dignity and human rights. Such a participation can be partly reflected in our joining of hands.”

Presenting on the topic “the proposed criminal jurisdiction mandate for the African Court, Progress or Regression in handling international crimes in Africa”, Mtambo called on the African leaders to rise up and champion international justice rather than impeding on it.

“African leaders should ultimately be assessed by their commitment to enhance the values of democracy, and justice for the victims of serious crimes- not by their unrepentant efforts at nurturing the culture of impunity at the expense of the rights of the citizens.

“ The notion that political power can be a safe haven for impunity would create dangerous double standard. After all, 2002 judgement of the international court of justice emphasized that the immunity enjoyed by certain senior state officials does not mean impunity in respect of crimes they may have committed, especially the gravest crimes,” argued Mtambo.

Added CHRR executive director: “Immunity from serious crimes of international concern like crimes against humanity and genocide has no place under both treaty and customary international law. As a matter of treaty law, personal and functional immunities may not shield an official from accountability from violations of international criminal law.”

Mtambo cited the ICC statute, statutes of the International Criminal Tribunal of former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) both created by the UN Security Council, and the prosecution of Charles Taylor before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCL) as evidence in support of the existence of a rule of customary international law voiding such immunities, arguing that all these include provisions asserting jurisdiction over state officials regardless of any conflicting doctrines of immunity

Speaking earlier in a keynote address Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete blasted the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly targeting African leaders.

“ICC should immediately stop prosecuting African leaders. There is quite a number of European leaders with dubious record of crimes against humanity but they are neither questioned nor stand trials, adding that African leaders were dragged to court for lighter offences,” argued Kikwete.

Reacting to Kikwete’s accusations, Legal and Human Rights Centre executive director Dr. Helen Kijo Bisimba said it was not the ICC that goes to Africa but African countries themselves that present their cases to an organization they were willing to join.

Meanwhile, President of SADC Lawyers Association Gilbert Caldeira said there was need to publicly and bodly advocate human rights for the enactment of law that would bridge the gap between the rulers and the citizenry.

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Wantali Savalagogoda

There are six people in front with one woman and 5 men. What does that mean iwe Chitimose Mtambo?


If only mtambo could be APM ! Things would have changed in Malawi . Here is the man by the name Timothy ,patriot of the season . Presenting an article better than the president mmmmm we malawians do we vote for quality or quantity ? It was the same in 1994 votes went for quantity not quality . Shame on us all.


How I wish these African leaders read these comments on Mtambo’s presentation! These politicians along with local leaders(mafumu) are very selfish and naive at the same time. Respect to all who have commented before me.


Why is the lady looking so miserable? And why make her seat at the edge of the table


African leaders have brain washed their citizens for too long, painting themselves as liberators while most of them have turned out to be the worst oppressors this planet has witnessed. This type of honeymoon has been so because the continent has lacked people of courage who could stand for the oppressed like how Mr. Timothy Mtambo and Gilbert Caldiera has done. It is high time African leaders practice genuine love for all their citizens.


African Leaders are a disgrace. They rule with impunity and when indicted to the Hague, they cry foul. You cannot defend yourself against a crime by saying others are doing the same crime.

Since the coming of ICC , African leaders have started behaving themselves because they fear the consequences of the actions or inactions.

Bravo Timothy Mtambo and Dr Helen Kijo Bisimba for telling African leaders the brutal truth.
Nthawi ino siyongelera.


Kikwete was representing fellie sadc and afrivan dictators,and was put into shame by lawyers and activists kkkk

concerned citizen

That was a wonderful presentation Gentlemen and lady. These politicians take us for a ride.

Mzozodo Chabe
Bravo to honorable Mr Mtambo and Mr Gilbert Caldeira for championing the rule of law on human rights, Africa wouldn’t be this disorganized if we had only 2 or 3 leaders with the type of vision you have. The only time when I thought just may be Africa might work was when Obasanjo and the late Tata Mandela may his soul rest in peace were presidents. Africa was promising but now it looks like the wheels have come off everything has drawn to a halt, both on human rights and economically, now that the cake is getting smaller and smaller,… Read more »

bravo Mtambo. african leaders penapake amaonjeza kwambiri violating their own mandate. they are against the ICC for not prosecuting western leaders yet they don’t have any concrete grounds for refuting their own crimes. if you are caught stealing a chicken, you dont defend yourself by pointing at the one who comited murder

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