‘Malawi rights defenders living dangerously’

Head of  the state funded Malawi Human Rights Commission, John Kapito, has said the country’s rights defenders are living dangerously because the state continue to threaten and harass them.

Kapito made the remarks when he spoke in the capital Lilongwe on Monday where Malawi’s rights activists have converged to take stock of the 30 years of the African Charter on human and people’s rights especially on how Malawi has performed.

Alapini-Gansou: Rights defendors not enemies of government

“There are many challenges. The state continues to threaten human rights defenders,” Kapito pointed out.

He described last year as “dangerous” for human rights campaigners and predicted more “dangerous times ahead.”

“We are facing hectic time as rights defenders have been shouldering a very tedious and heavy responsibility to defend people’s rights in the country,” said Kapito.

He said the country’s human rights situation was worsening.

Speaking to the rights defenders, special Rapporteur at the African Union, Reine Alapini-Gansou said human rights defenders are a key to any democratic government.

She said African governments including Malawi should stop taking defenders as opponents.

“Human rights defenders are the voice of the voiceless and they are in any government to fight for people’s rights,” she said.

Norwegian Ambassodor to Malawi, Asbjorn Eidhammer said human rights defenders are vital in holding states accountable for legal political standards.

“It is necessary for civil society to monitor human rights fulfillment, report on violation and demand where needed,”
he said.

The Norway diplomat expressed concerns over gaps between political commitment to human rights and implementation of rights.

The workshop has been organised by Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

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