MHRC faults police for arresting Namiwa, 10 others over vigil

State-funded human rights watchdog, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), has faulted the police for their heavy-handedness and the manner in which the law enforcers handled the arrest of activist Sylvester Namiwa and 10 others who were exercising their right to peacefully demonstrate outside Parliament Building in Lilongwe.

MHRC chairperson Scader Louis says in a statement issued today that the preliminary investigations they conducted on the matter and noted a number of human rights violations.

Namiwa being whisked away by unknown Police division

Louis says they are concerned that a human rights activist was arrested for merely exercising his right, stressing that albeit existing irregularities, the police ought to have stopped the demonstrations and not arrest the human rights activist.

“The Commission is concerned with the manner in which Mr. Namiwa was roughed up by the police during his arrest. This was undignified. As if that was not enough, he was handcuffed and whisked away to Linthipe Police Unit in Dedza, yet the events leading to his arrest happened in Lilongwe. There was no justification for this action, which in the process, denied his relatives, lawyers and fellow comrades the right to communicate with him,” reads the statement in part.

The MHRC investigations established that after he was taken back to Lilongwe, Namiwa was placed in a solitary cell at Lilongwe Police Station and was put in leg irons as if he was a dangerous criminal.

The Commission has strongly condemned police action, which it says is not in line with the Constitution of Malawi as well as international human rights standards.

“Section 42 of the Constitution states that every arrested person must be held under conditions that are consistent with human dignity. Placing a suspect of crime under leg irons is inconsistent with human dignity and should be condemned without any reservations. It is a relic of the past and should not be condoned under the new democratic regime where our police service is expected to abide by human rights standards in the performance of their duties. There is no justification at all for any suspect to be treated as if they are a condemned prisoner. One must always be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law,” emphasizes Louis.

She further cites Section 42 of the Constitution, which states that a detained person must be given the means and opportunity to communicate with and to be visited by his or her spouse, partner, next of kin, relative, religious counsellor and medical practitioner of his or her choice.

The same section states that an arrested person must be allowed to consult confidentially with their legal practitioner.

Thus, Louis says the actions of the police by whisking Namiwa away from Lilongwe to Dedza made it very difficult for all these rights to be exercised.

She demands that the Inspector General of Police must explain why this was done and for what justification.

“He must also explain and justify why a leader of a public demonstration should be put in leg irons. Furthermore, the Commission is concerned that Mr. Namiwa was not granted police bail on the same day of his arrest, although the reasons for his arrest were unjustified and he did not resist the arrest. Meanwhile, recent events have shown that some suspects being accused of serious criminal offences are being granted police bail. There must be consistency and fairness in treating all persons without discrimination,” Louis observes.

MHRC has also condemned in the strongest terms any State sponsored attacks on human rights defenders and in particular the detention of rights activist Namiwa of Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI).

It says all the actions of manhandling him and denying him bail were unnecessary and uncalled for. These actions are contrary to the police reforms that have been championed for decades.

“The Commission will therefore conduct full investigations into the matter and will release findings of the investigations in due course. The Commission also calls upon the Commissioner of the Independent Police Complaints Commission to conduct independent investigations into this matter,” recommends Louis.

There was no immediate comment from the police.

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23 Comments
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Justice for all
Justice for all
1 year ago

Malawi acting like old days Mr kainja this kind of leadership we are not interested this is democratic country where everyone have rights to demonstrate whether sadic meeting or not

My Opinion
My Opinion
1 year ago

This is not time for politics Nanyongo iwe!

Assange WikiLeaks
1 year ago

Human rights groups are there just to confuse people. Rights have got a limit. Namiwa was told not to proceed and deliberately chose to ignore the authorities. Why did he not go to court to challenge the city authorities. You guys are just time wasters. Human Rights are just looking for faults everywhere.

My Opinion
My Opinion
1 year ago

You can say that again! they are just useless group of people!

Kharupa
Kharupa
1 year ago

Simunkakamba zimenezi bwanji when the same human rights guys were demonstrating to put your government into power??

My Opinion
My Opinion
1 year ago
Reply to  Kharupa

Unless you tell me that the demos your Namiwa wanted to do was Politically motivated, i will agree with you! and the way you have said it just shows that you are in opposition,

Ali Palimandi
1 year ago

Malawi Police Force, Police Mobile Force (PMF), …… nostalgia

Phangela
Phangela
1 year ago

Green jacket youth league punks are back in town disguising themselves as law enforcers! We are in deep sh*t Malawians

Franklin Mlowoka
Franklin Mlowoka
1 year ago

Fortunately, with modern technology, nobody can runaway from scrutiny since all the act was recorded and the enforcers are seen literally dragging the suspect. Justice should be seen to be carriedout by those whose duty it is to check the conduct, delivery and adherence of the enforcement rules. The belief is that those people are trained and given orders as to how they should go about performing their expected duties to Malawi citizens, who are their paymasters, and not slaves/prisoners. In fact their responsibility is to assist the same people they are victimising. An investigation should commence forthwith or else… Read more »

Jah
Jah
1 year ago

Like old mcp barbarians

Immmana
Immmana
1 year ago

Boma ili ma blunder.Eishh kaya ndinalivotele ranji

My Opinion
My Opinion
1 year ago

HRDC now you are fools as well, didnt you know that this Namiwa was sent by the DPP party to cause unnecessary confusions to the SADC members or States? In other countries, do they have HRDC and the friends who just speak their own mind in the name of public? Malawi is just stupid Country in the World, it has stupid fools! Tell me which country in the SADC region can have this nosense thing called demo while you have visitors? kodi uchitsiluwu, simukudziwa kuti kupanga tsogolo lopusa la ana anu omwe? Malawi is a Country that is just like… Read more »

Ngoni
Ngoni
1 year ago
Reply to  My Opinion

One wonders whether you have sufficient knowledge of international affairs. So you agree with your pay masters that people should not demonstrate because there is SADC meeting.

My Opinion
My Opinion
1 year ago
Reply to  Ngoni

The first thing i would allow you to do is to check some facts in my argument. Take Malawi as your Country if you are one, and it is called the Warm Heart of Africa, proudly you cant allow yourself and or any one to show us this bullshit! now let me respond you in a better way so that you can understand me well, Your Namiwa was supposed to follow the protocol by obeying the city council. This is Malawi my home. Get lost!

Mwinithako
Mwinithako
1 year ago
Reply to  My Opinion

Kodi mwasowa zolemba ,numulemba mbwerera zakozi akeee!!It shows a dented brain

My Opinion
My Opinion
1 year ago
Reply to  Mwinithako

The fact that you responded, to me it means the message has been delivered!

Otayo
Otayo
1 year ago
Reply to  My Opinion

You are competely out touch mate.

Otayo
Otayo
1 year ago
Reply to  My Opinion

You are completely out of touch sir. Can you provide us with evidence that he was sent by DPP! Where in the law does it say that Police should behave in a brutal way and making unlawful arrest. You should wait for next step. Nawiwa I do believe he knows his rights and he Wil l sue the police for this unlawful arrest, harassment, unlawful detention, assault. Not even the police are above the law and they can not intimidate the public. In countries which are champions of democracy like in Europe or America, it is not a strange thing… Read more »

My Opinion
My Opinion
1 year ago
Reply to  Otayo

Just to respond me, this means you have heard me loud and clear! but i understand as well, your age tells more!

Kharupa
Kharupa
1 year ago
Reply to  My Opinion

Taona anthu akuchita demonstrate ku Ney York kuli UNGA, pali chani apa? moreover court ruled during ma demo a zisankho kuti one does not need permission but only to notify the authoriyies – Kainja wazitenga kuti izi wapangazi?

My Opinion
My Opinion
1 year ago
Reply to  Kharupa

The day you will wake up from your little knowledge, i will respond you very well than to day because am told”’dont argue with a fool to avoid noise! hahahahaha! ana anthete inu mudziwanji za ulemu wadziko lanu lomwe! ana obadwila m’ mademo inu kikkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sikusinja
Sikusinja
1 year ago
Reply to  My Opinion

Obviously you are not well educated on this stuff. Research how many times there are demonstrations at UNGA, G7 summits, G8 summits and other meetings of heads of state.

My Opinion
My Opinion
1 year ago
Reply to  Sikusinja

It doesnt take some one to be educated because i have seen well educated fools like you in this Country who are still in old days where the pains of losing election are still on your neck. get lost!

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