CSOs hail Malawi’s election to UN Human Rights Council, urge Tonse to improve rights record

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Youth and Society (YAS) have called upon the Malawi government to use its membership at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to improve its human rights record and vigorously drive the global human rights agenda.

Michael Simon Kaiyatsa: . We urge the Tonse Alliance administration to embrace this responsibility by expediting all outstanding cases of human rights violations
Kajoloweka: Tonse government  should  take serious steps towards improving  human rights record.

The call follows the election of the Malawi Government to the HRC, which was created in 2006 and replaced the former UN Commission on Human Rights.

It is the UN’s top human rights body and is made up of 47 Member States, elected by the UN General Assembly. The HRC has the mandate to strengthen the promotion and the protection of human rights worldwide as well as to address situations of human rights violations.

In their congratulatory statement issued today, CHRR acting executive director, Michael Kaiyatsa, and YAS executive director, Charles Kajoloweka, challenge the Tonse government to take serious steps towards improving its human rights record.

Kaiyatsa and Kajoloweka state that the membership on the Council comes with a responsibility to uphold high human rights standards as this is a criteria insisted on by States themselves when they adopted resolution 60/251in March 2006 to create the Human Rights Council.

“By electing Malawi to the HRC, we believe that the UN member states seek to make the government of Malawi more accountable to long-standing human rights issues in the country. We urge the Tonse Alliance administration to embrace this responsibility by expediting all outstanding cases of human rights violations, including those concerning the attacks and killings of persons with albinism, the case of Buleya Lule who was tortured to death in February 2019, murdered university student Robert  Chasowa, the murder of  Njaunju, Phiri and Policeman Usumani Imedi,  and bring perpetrators to justice.

“We insist that Malawi’s membership to the HRC should be linked to its serious commitment to uphold and protect human rights, and in case it fails to do so, it should eventually be expelled from the Council,” say the human rights activists.

According to Article 9 of the resolution, the elected Member States to the Council “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, shall fully cooperate with the Council and be reviewed under the universal periodic review mechanism during the term of their membership”.

Thus, Kaiyatsa and Kajoloweka emphasize that the election of Malawi as a member of the HRC, therefore, implies that from now onwards Malawi will have to take concrete, credible steps and real commitments to fully guarantee the protection and promotion of human rights according to international law.

“CHRR and YAS note that Malawi has succeeded to win a seat at the Council, despite its poor human rights record characterized by killings of persons with albinism, killings of people accused of witchcraft, a long-standing culture of impunity for gross human rights violations, including use of torture in police cells and other places of detention, widespread corruption and general failures in the administration of justice,”say Kaiyatsa and Kajoloweka in their congratulatory message.

Nevertheless,  the CSOs pointed out that Malawi’s membership to the Council does not prevent the government of Malawi from being held accountable for human rights violations.

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