OSISA wants President Banda to take urgent action

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) has called on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to take urgent action to protect and promote human rights for African nations including Malawi.

OSISA, in its submission to the just ended ACHPR’s 51st session held in Banjul, Gambia also urged the Commission to work with States to scrap outdated, colonial era offences that serve to criminalise poverty and homelessness, and allow for arbitrary arrest and detention by the police.

The other three nations, OSISA wants the commission to take urgent action on the situation, are Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Swaziland.

President Banda

The initiative, having congratulated Malawi for the smooth political transition following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, observed that the country was still facing political, social and economic crises at the heart of which was the previous government’s contempt for basic rights, constitutional provisions and the rule of law.

“It is time to end the culture of impunity for police brutality that has developed in Malawi; to rebuild key constitutional bodies, such as the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and, to allow the media and civil society to function freely so that Malawi returns to the path of democracy where institutions are more powerful than individuals,” said Leopoldo de Amaral, OSISA’s Human Rights Programme Manager in its submission.

The South African based organisation also appealed to the Commission to urge the new government of President Joyce Banda to bring those responsible for the killing of 19 innocent protestors on 20 and 21 July 2011 and the murder of student activist, Robert Chasowa, to justice – both those who committed the crimes and those who ordered them to do so.

President Banda has already instated a commission of inquiry to investigate how Chasowa was murdered and she has declared that whoever had a hand in the brutal killing of the student will face the long arm of the law.

OSISA also called on the Commission to urge the President Banda administration to respect the independence of key constitutional bodies, such as the MHRC, the Electoral Commission and the Ombudsman, and provide them with the necessary resources to carry out their work.

“And finally, we appeal to the Commission to urge the new President to allow the media and civil society to function free from public threats and violent intimidation,” said the Programme Manager.

Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries with a gross domestic product of about $5 billion, is currently struggling to contain the crisis following late President Mutharika’s continued oppressive policies and arrogance that resulted in Western donors withholding their aid.

But with the coming in of President Banda most foreign donors including have already shown willingness to pump in the country grants and loans to salvage the slumping economy.

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