Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has come under fire for using minors tocause havoc during its so- called peaceful demonstrations.
Seven minors were among those arrested by police while committing different various crimes during the Thursday’s demonstrations which the coalition organised.
A police arrest check-list shows that four children, Mayeso Yuston, 17; Gerald Charles, 13; Leston Chebakili, 15; Charles Yusuf, 14; all from Traditional Authority Mbwatalika in Lilongwe, were arrested while stoning shops at Area 18B.
Other two minors Timothy Banda, 15, from Lilongwe; Gerald Arnold, 18, from Dedza; were nabbed alongside Chimwemwe Waluza, 23, from Ntcheu; Langison Maunde, 19, from Mchinji; Moffat Chabwera, 21, from Balaka, Jailosi Chauma, 31, from Lilongwe, Helix Banda, 24, from Lilongwe and Stephano Kalipinde, 22, from Lilongwe; while breaking into shops at Area 18A.
The minors from Traditional Authorities Mbwatalika in Lilongwe, Kamenyagwaza in Dedza and Siphasi in Mchinji were among the people which HRDC found trucked from the outlying parts of Lilongwe to the demonstrations in the city.
The arrest of the minors has shocked retired Child Magistrate Esmie Tembenu who is now Executive Director for Family Rights, Elderly and Child Protection (FRECHIP).
While acknowledging that children, like any human beings have the right to express themselves, and engage in dialogue on issues that affect them, Tembenu said adults need to ensure that children receive timely, appropriate and maximum protection and be prevented from violating other peoples rights and coming in contact with the law.
“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world recognizes the rights of children to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly in line with the Malawi Constitution.
“Malawi has demonstrated a strong commitment to childrens rights since becoming a signatory to the CRC by enacting the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act, 2010 and other child related laws and policies which aim at giving primary consideration to the welfare and best interests of children by empowering Malawians to ensure that the provision of care and protection to children is given primary consideration by among others, preventing them from abusing other peoples rights,” said Tembenu.
She further said children have the right to participate only in peaceful and non-violent demonstrations that are done through a statement or action without the use of violence against other people.
“The CRC and the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act further provide children with the right not to be separated from parents unless in the best interests, and to be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence.
“We are wondering if the ones who take children to these demonstrations are their parents or guardians. If not, do these people that ferry the children obtain consent of their respective parents and guardians who could accompany and prevent them from being in contact with law? Was there any adult assigned during planning of the demonstrations to prevent the children from coming in contact with the law?” wondered Tembenu.
She said it is wrong for adults to exploit children to serve their agenda. She pleaded with all well-meaning Malawians to ensure that children are provided with maximum protection from either being abused or abusing other people.
During the demonstrations, some of the protestors invaded the residential Area 18 where they slashed maize in some field and terrorized homes.
Angry residents apprehended some of the demonstrators and beat them up.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :