Former Ombudsman, Justice Tujilane Chizumila, has challenged African governments, Malawi in particular, to always obey the law when running State affairs so that the citizenry enjoy their various human rights.
Chizumila, now a judge at the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, fears that failure to do that may lead citizens to lose faith and trust in the law and the institutions the African Union (AU) has set up.
She made the appeal on Wednesday as she opened the 63rd Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Banjul, The Gambia.
The session is being held under the theme ‘Fighting Corruption and Advancing Human Rights: Our Collective Responsibility’.
Chizumila said the AU has consistently defended the rule of law and independence of judicial organs and elevated them to the level of fundamental principles of the Union and its member States.
She noted that AU and its member States have in those instruments stated that respect for the law and the organs that oversee its application is crucial in achieving Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of Africa.
“When mirrored in those pledges, the current threats to African Union human rights bodies beg the question: Which Africa do we want? The AU’s response in its laws is that we want an Africa that upholds the rule of law and human rights; that is an African Union that obeys its own laws and institutions that it has set up for itself.
“One rationale behind the rule of law in the African Union is that those who govern must obey the law for fear that the people they govern would lose faith and trust in the law and the institutions that the African Union has set up,” Chizumila stated.
Delivering his speech on the state of human rights in Malawi, senior State advocate Pacharo Kayira assured the commission that Lilongwe remains committed to human rights at home and abroad.
However, he suggested that the commission should simplify State-party reporting guidelines, saying, there are now too many thematic State-party reporting guidelines which are making the reporting process somehow cumbersome.
“We believe that the State is the primary human rights defender. In that regard we will always strive that the ideals of a free, open and democratic society entrenched in our progressive Constitution are realised through a robust legislative, institutional and policy framework,” said Kayira.