The African Court on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) has suspended the enforcement of the decision by the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal to slap Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka with a K21.6 million costs bill in a case in which he sued President Peter Mutharika to fire his then Cabinet minister George Chaponda in connection with a controversial 2017 maize import deal.
With the order by the African Court , the K21.6 million costs bill is suspended and the matter will now go for full trial in Arusha, Tanzania.
Kajoloweka confirmed the development with Nyasa Times.
“We thank our partners Pan Adrican Union Laywers, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Osisa and our selfless counsel Wesley Mwafulirwa and all Malawians for the support. Impunity must fall, corruption must fall and injustice must fall,” said Kajoloweka.
The order of costs stirred debate as activists and commentators described it as exorbitant and unrealistic, especially considering that Kajoloweka was carrying out his duties in the interest of the public.
Initially, government through Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale demanded K15 million from Kajoloweka in through a letter dated February 25 2019.
Governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthali, who is on record to encourage Malawians to directly access African Court on Human and Peoples rights on various human Rights violations following Malawi’s deposition of the Declaration of the African Court Protoco, has welcome the suspension of the order to pay costs.
“Glad that funally we have a second case referred to African Court. This is the court that has been underutilised by Malawians despite Malawi government being one of the few countries that made the bold decision of allowing its citizens and human rights NGOs with observer status at African Commission such as CHRR, CHREEA to directly access the court after exhausting domestic legal avenues,” Munthali told Nyasa Times.
There are about 28 member states who ratified the African Court Protocol requirement allowing individuals and NGOs with observer status before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to directly access the African Court. These include Malawi, Burkina Faso, Mali, Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda and Ivory Coast.