Malawi Law Society (MLS) has clarified that it is not backing police action in arresting human rights activist after political podium statement by President Peter Mutharika and top brass of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), saying the conduct of the DPP reflects the political interference by the State in the operations of and lack of independence by the law enforcers.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) vice chairperson Gift Trapence and member Macdonald Sembereka were arrested on Sunday after Mutharika declared his patience with freedom of speech and political assembly is over.
HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo, who was in hiding, surrendered himself to police on Tuesday and was locked up in a cell.
In its statement signed by its president Burton Chidongondo Mhango and honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde, MLS said it unreservedly condemns the political interference in the operations of police and called on the law enforcers to release the rights activists and “act independently and professionally.”
The Law Society says it also strongly condemns the approach adopted by DPP leadership at Njamba Freedom Park rally on Sunday and calls upon all political players to avoid the “inflammatory language” as was used at the rally.
DPP Secretary General, Grizedar Jeffrey, was filmed warning Mtambo: “We want to warn you. Enough is enough. A female witch is more dangerous than a male wizard. When a female witch wants to deal with you, she will simply kill you.”
MLS has since clarified that it is not backing police action over the arrest of the rights activists.
The lawyers’ body said it does not defend arbitrary arrest.
“The Law Society reiterates the call for Malawi Police Service to act professionally and independent of the interference of any person as required by the law,” reads the MLS statement.
MLS furthers reiterates its earlier calls to all citizens that wish to exercise their rights to do so “within the confines of the law.”
In its statement, MLS has appealed to all stakeholders to respect the February 3 judgement of the High Court until the matter is dealt by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal where first respondent President Peter Mutharika and second respondent Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) have since appealed.
Meanwhile, Civicus, the global alliance of civil society organisations and Front Line Defenders, an international human rights organisation, have added their voices to the chorus calling for for the immediate release of human rights defenders in Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :