JB’s rights, governance record excites watchdog CHRR

Despite faulting government in a number of areas, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has patted the Joyce Banda’s administration at the back for notable achievements registered in the human rights, rule of law and good governance arena.

CHRR, one of the fearless government critiques, observes that unlike during the late President Bingu wa Mutharika regime Banda’s admin has recorded a number of positive developments during its 20 months in office.

In its assessment of the President’s 20 months regime, the CHRR particularly points at the two Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) demonstrations and Malawi’s historical attendance and submission of human rights report at 53rd Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights as major successes.

“We, at CHRR, recognise that the 20 months of Joyce Banda at the helm of Malawi Government has registered some notable achievements in the arena of human rights, rule of law and good governance.

Mtambo: CHRR has noted positives
Mtambo: CHRR has noted positives
President Banda: Good track record
President Banda: Good track record

“Unlike during Mutharika’s regime where those with intentions to demonstrate against the oppressive rule were intimidated and the actual demonstrations marred with violence, the 20 months of Joyce Banda in office saw the Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA), under the leadership of activist John Kapito, peacefully holding at least two demonstrations in the major cities of Malawi.“The Malawi Police Service professionally managed to handle the situation. All this to the credit of Joyce Banda’s administration,” says CHRR in its analysis issued at December 31, 2013.

The vocal human rights body also applauds the Joyce Banda’s regime for attending the 53rd Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights held in Banjul, Gambia in April 2013 and its subsequent submission of its human rights report to the same.

CHRR describes the development as another remarkable step towards the country’s respect and commitment of human rights as enshrined in both local and international statutes.

This was the first time over years that the Malawi Government had attended such an important human rights forum.

However, this was after CHRR, while enjoying its observer status at African Commission, had made a series of calls to government, using both local and international forums, to start attending the forums and submit its reports.

“We cannot help but applaud the president for taking such a bold and democratic path, and hope that this will not be an end in itself but rather a continued government’s respect for the existing local and international human rights instruments and statues,” says CHRR in its analysis signed and issued by the acting Executive Director, Timothy Mtambo.

Further, the organisation describes as a welcome development Banda’s compensation to the families of July 20, 2011 victims.

“We applaud President Banda for compensating the families of July 20 heroes, who lost their precious lives while resisting tyrant leadership of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime under late Bingu Mutharika in the hope for a better Malawi.

“It remains indisputable that since the ‘fateful’ July 20 2011 most of the families of the victims of July 20 have lived in abject poverty and suffering, and it is, therefore, against such a background or context that President Banda’s recent kind gesture shouldn’t be taken for granted,” states CHRR.

However, CHRR requests Banda and her government to put in place a clear and effective accountable system to monitor and regulate the initiative not only for record purposes but also to ensure that only the deserving victims get compensated.

In the same spirit, it also implores government to extend such kind gestures to families of other Malawian fallen heroes such as the Chilembwe family currently in desperate and humiliating state.

President Banda has clocked 20 months and some days in office following her “historical ascendancy to power” on 7th April 2012 after the sudden demise of late Mutharika.

Her ascendancy to power did not only prove that Malawi democracy was gradually on track but certainly coming of age and most importantly offered hope for a new Malawi- emancipated from political and constitutional disorder which had characterised Mutharika’s second term in office.

But President Banda will be facing her major test in May this year when the country goes to the polls to either renew her mandate or push her out of office.

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