Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has made a frantic plea to Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to call off the scheduled by-weekly protests, saying they are turning violent.
MHRC executive director David Nungu says the protests will negatively affect the country’s economy and greater suffering of the people.
“These negative effects could be avoided if peaceful means of resolving the current electoral disputes were applied.
“This being the case, the commission appeals to the organisers of the demonstrations, the HRDC, to consider calling off the demonstrations for now and allow for a reflection meeting with the commission,” says the statement from the taxpayer-funded human rights watchdog made available to Nyasa Times.
Nungu says in the statement that while the commission does not want to appear to limit the enjoyment of the right to demonstrate, it nevertheless has a duty to ensure the protection of and respect for all other equally important rights as guaranteed by the Republican Constitution.
“The commission believes this is also in the interest of HRDC. Therefore, the reflection meeting would enable the HRDC and the commission to reach a common position on the application of this duty,” says the MHRC statement.
The commission is also asking the leadership of all political parties to embrace peace in all their public utterances.
“It has been greatly worrisome that a few leaders still use hate and provocative speech during the post-election political meetings when peace is what the nation needs,” says Nungu in the statement.
He said the commission would soon be announcing its peace initiative in which all stakeholders and good meaning Malawians would be invited to participate.
The Constitution mandates MHRC to protect and investigate violations of human rights or any other law.
Commenting on the statement by MHRC, governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that statement smacks” a high level of hypocrisy.”
He said: “ It’s selective and biased assessment or analysis of the post-election demonstrations organised by HRDC [and] falls short of a statement issued by a national independent human rights body.
“ If truth be told, it’s like a DPP or State House press statement selectively condemning violence under the guise of promoting peace.”
Munthali pointed out that, MHRC statement has completely paid a blind eye to the violence committed by ruling DPP cadets as well as the Police’s unprofessional conduct in firing teargas at MCP headquarters.
“ It has further failed to condemn the unwarranted capture of Blantyre City Council by the DPP in blocking CSOs of exercising their right to demonstration yet the July 20, 2011 demos Commission of Inquiry report bemoaned such conduct.
“ The MHRC report has not condemned the MCP Blantyre office arson. Most importantly, the Report has said nothing about the need to balance between calls for peace or dialogue and the need to ensure there is accountability or justice on what happened on May 20, 2011.”
Munthali observed that MHRC is only concerned with peace at the expense of establishing the truth on what transpired on the elections
“As someone with human rights background, MHRC statement is wanting in several aspects in as far as Human Rights protection and promotion is concerned, and I am afraid this might the worst and most embarrassing statement I have read from the Commission in recent times,” he added.
In April this year, President Peter Mutharika appointed new commissioners for MHRC. He retained media consultant Baldwin Chiyamwaka and Bertha Sefu and roped in law don Dr Sunduzwayo Madise, Stella Twea, Scader Louis, the Reverend Cecilia Kotima and former Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) president Boniface Massah.
The seven will be joined by Law Commissioner Rosemary Kanyuka and Ombudsman Martha Chizuma as ex-officio members who will complete the line-up.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :