UN accuses Malawi for violating civil, political rights

Malawi has been accused by the United Nations human rights experts of failing to protect civil and political rights.

The 18 independent expert of the U.N. Human Rights Committee, a group that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on Thursday announced that Malawi has for the first time since it becoming party to the treaty in 1993 submitted a report to the committee for examination.

The Malawi rights report was presented in Geneva by  Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General Janet Chikaya-Banda.

While the committee is pleased with Malawi’s action, that has not blunted its criticism of the country’s human rights record.

Dr Janet Banda: Presented Malawi report to UN human rights commission
Dr Janet Banda: Presented Malawi report to UN human rights commission

Chairman Nigel Rodley says the committee is concerned by extra-judicial killings in Malawi, saying the judicial response toward police who use lethal force is inadequate and must be strengthened.

He says the government must do much more to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of torture and compensate victims.

Rodley says child abuse is rampant and Malawi’s laws must be amended to properly tackle this problem.

The committee was also critical of the practice of forced and child marriages, harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation, domestic violence and the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex relations.

However, Malawi police are no longer arresting people for homosexuality — and Solicitor General told UN committe that there is “political will” to review the country’s harsh antigay law.

Banda told UN that no formal body had been created to review the possibility of decriminalizing homosexuality in Malawi, but that there is political will to do so.

Rights campaigners have expressed alarm with growing homophobia in the country.

The government in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, has been slow to act on several fronts regarding the safety of LGBT people.

“Malawi has not set up a mechanism to specifically monitor cases of violence based on sexual orientation, nor has it set up awareness-raising campaigns on the same,” said Chikaya-Banda in her statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council last week.

The UN rights council has asked Malawi to report on the implementation of its recommendations in 2018, when it is due to provide the committee its next periodic report.

Malawi is among seven countries, including Sudan, Chile, Georgia, Ireland and Japan, that recently came under investigation of the U.N. Human Rights Committee.

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