The European Union (EU) delegation to Malawi has called on the Malawi Government to join over 142 countries globally that abolished the death sentence.
EU Ambassador Aurelie Valtat made the remarks yesterday during the signing of two project funding schemes worth K265 million each to support the promotion of the Access to Information (ATI) Act and abolition of the death sentence.
She said death penalty is cruel, inhuman, degrading in nature and makes any injustice irreversible, adding there is no evidence that death penalty prevents or reduces crime.
Said Va l t a t : “Our greatest concern is that the death penalty violates the inalienable right to life enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and we hope the K265 million funding will help in the project aimed at abolishing death penalty in the next two years.”
The ceremony was in line with the International Human Rights Day commemorations yesterday and the anti-death penalty project will be implemented by a UK organisation Reprieve together with the Centre for Human Rights Advice and Assistance (Chreea).
Commenting on the ATI project, Valtat said the K265 million will support the implementation of the Act through sensitising authorities, civil society organisations and the media in 10 districts of the country.
If we want the fundamental right of access to information to be fulfilled, we have to ensure that each and every citizen in Malawi is aware of the new Act and of the ways to request information,” she said.
The project will be implemented by Oxfam Ireland along with two Malawian organisations Youth and Soc i e t y (YAS) and Development Communication Trust (DCT) for two years.
On her part, Oxfam country director Lingalireni Mihowa said popularising the ATI Bill will not only create awareness of the law to the citizenry, but will also empower them to be able to hold their duty-bearers accountable.
Speaking on behalf of government, Ministry of Justice chief legal counsel Aman Mussa said the government of
Malawi has in the first six months of its tenure has implemented a number of steps to demonstrate its commitment to good governance and human rights.
“Government has undergone the UN Universal Periodic Review process before the Human Rights Council and has made commi tments t o i m p l e m e n t t h e recommendations, it has operationalised the Police Independent Complaints Commission after years of delay, has brought the ATI into operation and has launched the National Plan of Action against rape and defilement,” he said.
Reprieve representative Chipiliro Luhanga said despite huge advances to move away from the use of death penalty in recent years, Malawi has taken backward steps in recent months as death sentences have been handed in response to attacks on people with albinism.