Government is orchestrating the violation of human rights of its citizens by hindering their access to justice through the paralysis of the Judiciary, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) has said.
MLS secretary Felisah Kilembe this week said a dysfunctional Judiciary violates human rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
Said Kilembe: “There is no one to protect and enforce the Constitution. There are no checks and balances on the other two arms of government.
“Some people’s liberty is being affected by the strike as they are being kept in prison beyond the maximum period allowed by law.”
She said the strike is hugely affecting Malawi’s economic prospects and is likely to scare away foreign investors who require the assurance of protection when need arises.
“The fact that we are having Judiciary strikes now and again is a sign that the system is not working. It is time for all parties involved to sit down and find a lasting solution,” Kilembe said.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo argued that Malawi has leadership crisis, especially when relevant ministries such as Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Labour and Vocational Training have decided to bury their heads in the sand to offer no explanation or hope.
Said Mtambo: “You cannot have a functioning democracy with one arm of government weakened. Aid resumption is dependent on government’s seriousness in tackling Cashgate cases; but yet government can afford to have a Judiciary that is not functional.”
Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Henry Mussa said his ministry will not get involved in the matter, as bodies such as the Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) and the Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecama) are mandated to do so.
Meanwhile, police cells, according to police sources, are overcrowded because not all suspects can get police bail. The situation is also posing a health risk to the suspects, according to the sources.
However, police prosecutor Happy Mkandawire said while the situation is bad, it is not extreme.
The Judiciary has not been operational for close to a month following a strike by Judiciary support staff to force government to increase their salaries.
During former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika, the Judiciary also went on strike for three months.