Civil society organisations (CSO) have described as shameful and retrogressive accusations from Solicitor General Janet Banda that they reported human rights abuses to the United Nations (UN) to please donors.
A letter from the UN rapporteur on human rights angered Banda after it contained information that police and government officials harassed CSO leaders in the run up to the January 15 2015 demonstrations which took place across the country.
Banda told Nation on Sunday that CSOs submitted such reports to sustain their own donor funding.
But in a joint press release issued yesterday, two of the CSOs who have consistently reported human rights violations to rights bodies—Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (Cedep)—argued that the government, by virtue of being party to the various UN mechanisms and treaty bodies like Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCCPR), but also African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) gives CSOs their mandate.
“Besides, some of the CSOs, including CHRR, Cedep are part and parcel of government’s constituted and coordinated task forces on UPR and other UN mechanisms which speaks volumes of Malawi government’s recognition of the importance of CSOs in these international mechanisms,” reads the statement signed by CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo and Cedep executive director Gift Trapence.
Mtambo and Trapence found that it strange that the current government was concerned with the presence of CSOs at such international human rights platforms when they have been there before under previous regimes.
Government has submitted a national report outlining how it has carried out recommendations made in 2010 at the UN UPR where it government is due to undergo a review of its human rights situation on May 5 by fellow UN member States.