The acting United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator to Malawi, Benoit Thiry, has hailed the ruling the High Court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda delivered in respect of the rape, defilement and sexual assault on Msundwe women by Malawi Police Service officers.
The court ordered the police to compensate 18 women allegedly sexually assaulted by cops in Lilongwe last October and the arrest of the 17 implicated law enforcers.
In a statement issued on Monday, Thiry has described the judgment as an important milestone towards the protection of survivors of sexual violence in Malawi.
“The High Court’s judgment in favour of the 18 women and girls who reported incidents of rape and sexual assault by police officers in October 2019 in M’bwatalika and Mpingu, Lilongwe, is a step forward to address sexual crimes in Malawi,” reads the statement in part.
Thiry salutes the Women Lawyers Association for the pivotal role it played in bringing the case to the attention of the High Court and reinforcing the Constitutional right of survivors of sexual violence to access justice and effective remedies for the harm that they have suffered.
“Further to this judgment, it is now important that national authorities ensure a prompt, effective and impartial investigation so that all persons suspected of crimes in this case are subjected to criminal processes. Moreover, the survivors should be provided necessary support and assistance.
“The UN reiterates its commitment to continue supporting the Government and the people of Malawi to uphold human rights, in particular to work together to end violence against women and girls throughout the country. Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace,” Thiry says.
Early this year, Vice-President Saulos Chilima reported the Msundwe sexual assault matter, among others, to the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing the then Police IG Duncan Mwapasa of failing to deal with the matter.
The Veep’s action came after WLA filed an application for a judicial review of the matter at the Lilongwe High Court in January 2020.