Malawi govt committed to human rights protection, Tembenu tells African Commission

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu has said government remains committed to protection and promotion of human rights in Malawi as clearly evident in the progress the government has made in the area.

Tembenu:  Government will protect rights
Tembenu: Government will protect rights

Tembenu made these remarks during his presentation of Malawi’s initial report before the African Commission at the 56th session African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights held in Banjul, Gambia.

State parties to the African Charter on human and peoples’ rights, including Malawi, have the obligations to submit reports every two years to update the commission on their promotion and protection mandate of human and peoples’ rights in their respective countries.

However, after 25 years of non-compliance to her obligations to the commission, Malawi submitted its maiden report in 2013, and this was the first time for Malawi government to appear before the commission for the discussions and review of its report.

Tembenu said Malawi has made “remarkable progress” in the promotion and protection of human rights despite a few challenges.

“ Apart from having a fully-fledged bill of rights in its constitution, Malawi has an independent judiciary, human rights institutions. Malawi has also adopted laws, policies and programmes which address inequalities and actively promote non-discrimination like the Gender Equality Act 2012, Prevention of Domestic Violence Act 2006, Deceased Estates (Wills, Inheritance and Protection Act), Child (Care, Protection and Justice) Act 2010, Re-admission Program, the adoption of Marriage, divorce and family relations bill just to mention as some positives indicating government’s commitment to protection of human rights” said Tembenu, who is the leader of Malawi’s delegation

Malawi’s historic appearance at the 56th session of African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in Banjul Gambia was greeted with a positive response from all the Commissioners of African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights who heaped praise on Malawi government for setting a good example worthy emulating by countries which were yet to start submitting their reports to the Commission.

According to the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, Malawi had presented a sincere report which outlined both successes and challenges.

Reacting to Tembenu’s presentation before the commission, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Human Rights Advocacy Coordinator indicated that despite ignoring some crucial areas reflected in their joint CHRR and Cedep shadow report submitted to the Commission in 2013, the report was comparatively better than other reports submitted in similar platforms.

“Let me first start by congratulating the government of Malawi for their good presentation before the commission. Despite ignoring some crucial areas reflected in our shadow report for government’s urgent address and being general in some instances hence begging questions, this report was to some extent a departure from the usual ‘feel it good’ reports as it acknowledged some challenges affecting Malawi government’s implementation of the charter with a good example being the biasness of Malawi Broadcasting Station,” Munthali told Nyasa Times from Gambia.

Earlier this week, CHRR and Centre for Development of People hailed Malawi government for its maiden appearance to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights citing such a decision was a positive step towards Malawi government’s adherence to international human rights instruments to which Malawi is party to.

“As CHRR and Cedep we are excited about this move. By resolving to appear before the 56th Session of African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights the Malawi government has not only demonstrated its willingness towards adherence to her international obligations but also commitment towards the promotion and protection of human rights for all.

“The very fact that the decision is coming against a positive background of Malawi’ similar maiden historical appearance at the 111th session of United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva recently offers some hope of a better Malawi in as far as respect, promotion and protection of human rights is concerned,”said Munthali.

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