Two local human rights bodies – Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) – have petitioned the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland about the persistent failure to hold to account members of the security forces responsible for human rights violations, including abductions and enforced disappearances of government critics.
In the petition dated August 31 2016 sent to OHCHR’s human rights officer for Africa Branch (East and Southern Africa) Abigail Noko, Cedep and CHRR have observed that since 2011, local and international organisations have raised concern over a number of serious human rights violations in the country which are recurring in 2016.
Among others, they have cited the brutal killing of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) senior officer Issa Njaunju , the killing of university student Robert Chasowa and alleged threats to journalists that include Times Group journalists, Nyasa Times editors, human rights defenders and political activists.
CHRR and CEDEP want UN to place a special focus on Malawi to improve its compliance with international human rights conventions and that the UN Human Rights Commissioner should press Malawi to bring to book the perpetrators who are roaming freely in the corridors of power.
“It is our expectation that through your intervention, the government of Malawi will ensure the prosecution of all alleged perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, complete expeditiously all the process that have been already initiated, punish those who are convicted and compensate the victims,” the petition reads.
The organisations further say they hope accountability and justice will take course and no one will be spared regardless of their status.
“The government needs to be further reminded that the primary role of every government is to protect its citizens. Malawi has an obligation to protect human rights defenders, journalists, political activists and academics as enshrined in the constitution and international conventions on human rights to which it is signatory to,” it reads.
The organisations, also want the country to meaningfully commit to implementing and domesticating the instruments in a comprehensive manner.
“The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, United Nations through the Universal Periodic Review [UPR], treaty bodies such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] and Malawi’s civil society organisations have been raising a number of serious human rights concerns in the country since 2011 and same cases have been recurring in 2016,” reads part of the petition.
The groups expect the issues raised in the petition will be brought to the attention of government and acted on “considering that the issues have taken long without being resolved and keep resurfacing.”
“Malawi has an obligation to protect human rights defenders, journalists, political activists and academicians as enshrined in the constitution and international conventions on human rights to which it is signatory to,” reads the petition.
It has been reported that the State House has been targeting its critics and has embarked on a campaign to silence all Malawians it views critical to its administration.
However, special adviser on civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Mavuto Bamusi said government government is pushing for resources to enable the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to address matters of human rights and governance, assuring that all the matters the two groups have raised “will be addressed in detail by the ministry.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :