The High Court order restraining government and Malawi police from stopping Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) from holding nationwide demonstrations has been overshadowed with the moratorium issued by Supreme Court of Malawi retraining the civil society organisations from holding the protests.
Supreme Court issued the moratorium after the High Court in Lilongwe had granted an order for permission to commence judicial review proceedings and an interlocutory injunction against a decision by Minister of Information, Mark Bottoman, Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi and the Inspector General of Police to ban the demonstrations.
Lawyer Khumbo Soko representing HRDC on the High Court said Supreme Court is the superior court in Malawi and it’s orders are respected as an authority in all judicial matters in the country.
Soko explained that there were two file processes in the court; in other case, the Attorney General went to the court to apply for an order to ban the demonstrations and the High Court rejected that plea, he then made an appeal to the case, and the Supreme Court decision of granting a 14-day moratorium against demonstrations in Malawi J was based on that proceeding.
Soko said the High Court judicial review proceeding which commenced Tuesday was independent of the Supreme court process and was challenging the decision that was made on Monday, August 26.
“But then because the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, we would think that if it has said that there should be a moratorium on demonstrations, the order that the High Court issued earlier has been overtaken by that order and there cannot be demonstrations until that period elapses or is revised,” said Soko.
The moratorium paves way for the HRDC, the Malawi Police Service and local government assemblies to discuss and agree on security modalities aimed at preventing property damage and personal injuries during future demonstrations .
The Government will use the ensuing deliberations to see how prepared the HRDC is to deploy its own marshalls or crowd controllers to avert incidents that have so far marked each and every one of their outings on the streets of Malawi.