Ombudsman Martha Chizuma has hit back at Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani, who is also government spokesperson, claims that Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) report on rape incidents allegedly committed by police officers around Msundwe area in Lilongwe can be challenged.
Botomani said MHRC does not have commissioners and Ombudsman Martha Chizuma and the Law Commissioner Rosemary Kanyuka, who conducted the investigation and released the report in Lilongwe last Wednesday, were only acting as MHRC advisers and not commissioners.
However. Ombudsman said she was “not sure which Constitution the minister is reading where it refers to [me] and the Law Commissioner as advisers of MHRC”.
In quotes reported by The Nation newspaper, Chizuma said: “What I know is that by Section 130 of the Constitution currently in use in Malawi, the Law Commissioner and myself are commissioners of MHRC. I know a few people have raised this issue before but my view based on the reading of the Constitution is that by making the Law Commissioner and Ombudsman as commissioners, the law never envisaged complete lacunae in the commission, considering that human rights violations never wait for full commission.”
The Ombudsman further said it was her view that all interventions they were making are covered under Section 42 of the Interpretation Act.
“Let me add here that I do not, in anyway, mean that full commission is not required. We need full commission because myself and Law Commissioner can only do so much.
“At the moment, there is so much that needs to be done at MHRC requiring full commission whose appointment awaits Executive action.But until then as commissioners, we cannot keep quiet on these serious human rights issues that keep on coming up in this country,” she said.
In their report, Chizuma and Kanyuka said they established that police officers raped 13 women, defiled one girl and sexually assaulted three under-18 girls during their October 8 2019 operation around the area.
The report says the police officers committed the incidents as the women fled violent scenes
MHRC recommends that acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa should institute criminal investigations into the matter, targeting police officers deployed at Mpingu and M’bwatalika whose teams were led by Superintendent Kantchowa, Msukwa and Inspector Chipofya.
The commission also recommends that there should be reconciliation between police and the people of Msundwe, Kadziyo, M’bwatalika and Mpingu areas.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :