Scottish law society demand protection for Malawi lawyers

The Law Society of Scotland has called for an end to a surge of intimidation and violence against Malawi lawyers and has also urged the Bingu wa Mutharika government to resolve the current judicial strike action.

The Scottish Lawyers made the plea in a statement released on Friday and a copy made available to Nyasa Times.

“We have developed a close working relationship with the Malawi Law Society in recent years,” Jamie Millar, former president of the Society and a council member on the Commonwealth Law Association, said.

Malawi lawyers recently joined the Judiciary junior staff in the sit-in strike

Millar also said the Malawi Law Society does a tremendous job both for its members and for the citizens of Malawi.

“But the latest news from Malawi causes us a great deal of concern,” the statement said.

The Society voiced its extreme concern over recent attacks on human rights defenders in Malawi singling out the recent arrest and detention of Malawian human rights lawyer and former Attorney-General, Ralph Kasambara.

The attack against Kasambara follows widespread reports of harassment and intimidation of other human rights defenders in Malawi.

The Society then asked the Malawi Government to reaffirm its commitment to the freedoms as enshrined in the country’s constitution and o uphold the protection of the human rights of the citizens of Malawi through its own actions and those of its agencies

“And to denounce politically motivated and unlawful ill-treatment of those who choose to exercise their democratic right to freedom of expression,” the Society said.

At the prolonged judiciary strike, the Scottish Lawyers noted the devastating effect this is having on citizens’ ability to access the justice system.

“While we are aware of the Malawi Government claims that it is not in a financial position to honour the terms of the 2006 salary review, we would urge its ministers to begin open and constructive negotiations with the staff of the judiciary in the hope that a compromise can be reached that will allow the public their constitutional right of access to justice.

“Furthermore, we are concerned for the well-being of those members of the Malawi Law Society who are self-employed and who rely on the receipt of court fees to support themselves and their families,” said the Society.

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