The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has written the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) to express concern over the commission’s proposed survey on homosexuals.
But the commission says it cannot respond because the letter was addressed to “junior officers”.
The Sunday Times of June 4 2017 reported that MHRC wants to conduct a survey to get Malawians’ views on lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex (LGBTI).
But in a letter dated June 16 2017, HRW has condemned the move, saying the LGBTI, who are in minority, cannot be subjected to a survey in a country where the majority of people is against them.
“The fundamental human rights of a minority should never be subject to the views of a majority,” said HRW LGBTI rights programme director Graeme Reid in a letter addressed to MHRC director of economic, social and cultural rights Harry Migochi and director of civil and political rights Peter Chisi.
HRW also wants to know the purpose of the survey, the basic data collection methodology, the extent to which international and regional human rights norms and standards were considered in developing the survey and whether it (survey) is a component of the strategy adopted by the MHRC following the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) training in Nairobi, Kenya.
But MHRC chairperson Justin Dzonzi said HRW should have addressed their letter to senior people and not “juniors”.
“We cannot respond to the letter because it was addressed to juniors at the commission. Had it been that it was addressed to the executive secretary or the chairperson, we could have responded,” he said.
However, Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence dismissed Dzonzi’s claim, saying directors are senior people at the commission.
“He [Dzonzi] could have responded to the issues that the letter is raising. After all, the letter was addressed to senior people within the commission.
“Cedep will not support a process that reinforces discrimination. Our expectation is to see a process that has a human rights face. We recommend that the commission should engage key stakeholders before starting the enquiry,” said Trapence.
Migochi and Chisi attended the NANHRI training in Kenya. n