Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has accused government of presenting a false picture of the country’s human rights situation in its report to the African Commission.
HRDC and chief State advocate in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Pacharo Kayira presented separate human rights situation reports to the ongoing 65th Session of the African Commission on Human Rights and People’s Rights in Banjul, The Gambia.
But in a written response, HRDC vice-chairperson Gift Trapence said Kayira’s report, presented on Wednesday, fell short of mentioning human rights violations that have occurred in the country after the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
He said: “The statement [government]
made does not reflect the reality on the ground on matters pertaining to human rights violations. It avoided the real issues affecting Malawians. If this is a government serving the best interest of its citizens, there is no way it can fail to comment on the allegations that police raped Msundwe women.”
“…There is no way a government can fail to comment as to why police are failing to arrest those who wanted to kill Dr. Billy Mayaya , Timothy Mtambo, and Reverend McDonald Sembereka.”
Asked to comment on HRDC’s remarks, Kayira, also in a written response, said he had limited time to make his presentation.
He said: “Firstly, note there are two statements that differ in context. Secondly, for the Malawi situation statement, we had only seven minutes. We can’t cram everything in there. We decide what to include. But that does not stop the MHRC or civil society to raise those issues.”
Kayira explained that HRDC and other civil society are at liberty to raise anything they want and that government will not tell them what to include in their reports. He said government will respond properly to issues that HRDC has raised during a plenary session.
Trapence said their report, presented yesterday, touched on a number of violent incidents that government “through its various apparatus” has inflicted on citizens and HRDC leaders.
The government report, however, highlighted successes in fighting against abductions and killings of people with albinism and stopping the post-election violence that has led to loss of lives and vandalism.
Kayira stated that the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections were a success in that the number of female members of Parliament (MPs) increased from 32 to 44.
He said: “It is regrettable, however, that following the May elections, the demonstrations that have occurred have led to loss of life and property. Our view is the exercise of rights without a sense of responsibility and duty towards your neighbour is an affront to the values and dictates of democracy and the rule of law.
“Regarding the ongoing case in which two candidates are challenging the presidential election results, we urge calm and patience for the court to hear the case and reach its verdict.”
Although the report he presented articulated issues of violations that were visibly seen in Lilongwe and other parts of the country, Kayira did not mention any human rights violations that HRDC leaders have been facing since demonstrations began in April this year.
The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and other human rights watchdogs are part of the summit and are expected to present their reports before the end of the summit this weekend.
Meanwhile, HRDC has also reported government to the United Nations (UN) over what it alleges as government-sponsored violations of the right to assembly and demonstration.
He confirmed in an interview yesterday the coalition submitted official complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, two weeks ago.
Trapence said they reported government to the global human rights body after noting that it had failed on its duties to protect and defend citizens.
Said Trapence: “Government agencies such as police have been used as tools to oppress Malawians.