The International Criminal Court (ICC) has confirmed receiving communication from Vice-President Saulos Chilima reporting President Peter Mutharika and Acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa for alleged criminal offences.
The communication, dated June 10 2020 which Chilima submitted in his personal capacity, points out crimes against humanity allegedly committed between 2018 and 2020.
In an email response yesterday, the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, said it will first assess whether the communication concerns matters that are outside the jurisdiction of the court.
It reads in part: “We can confirm we have received a communication as the sender has made that fact public. As we do with all such communications, we will analyse the materials submitted, as appropriate, in accordance with the Rome Statute and with full independence and impartiality.
“The first step of that process is to assess whether the communication concerns matters that are manifestly outside the jurisdiction of the court. As soon as we reach a decision on the appropriate next step, we will inform the sender and provide reasons for our decision.”
According to the Policy Paper on Preliminary Examination Activities (2013), the Office of the Prosecutor at ICC conducts, on the basis of its proprio motu (on one’s own initiative) powers under Article 15 of the Roman Statute, a preliminary examination of all situations that are not manifestly outside the jurisdiction of the Court.
In the report, which his lawyer Chikosa Silungwe confirmed, Chilima mentions crimes such as murder under Article 7(1) (a), rape and other forms of sexual violence under Article 7(1), causing severe injury under Article 7(1) (k) and persecution based on political affiliation under Article 7 (1) (h) of the Rome Statute.
Top among the issues are the petrol-bombing of the UTM Party office in Area 24, Lilongwe which housed the Tambala family, and the rape of women and girls at Msundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu in Lilongwe by some alleged police officers in Lilongwe.
In his statement, Chilima submits: “There is an Election Campaign Strategy of the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP]—whose president is Arthur Peter Mutharika—by which the civilian population is systematically attacked, principally based on the use of DPP youth cadets, political allies, law enforcement agents [particularly the Malawi Police Service] on instructions of Arthur Peter Mutharika and Duncan Mwapasa.”
He claims public officials have consistently denied, trivialised or outrightly ignored the existence of crimes committed against the civilian population by DPP youth cadets and police officers as “agents of Mutharika and Mwapasa”.
Reads in part the relief he is seeking: “Determine whether there exists reasonable basis to initiate an investigation regarding the commission of crimes against humanity in Malawi when all the facts, as provided in the communication, are considered.”
While Mwapasa has declined to comment on the matter, Mutharika’s presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani told The Nation that it was Chilima and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera who started the said political violence in the country.
He said: “It is a known fact that the political violence that Malawi is experiencing was started by himself in collaboration with the MCP president Reverend Lazarus Chakwera and the HRDC [Human Rights Defenders Coalition] in reaction to their loss of the May 2019 presidential polls.
“Together, they have been planning, funding and perpetuating the violence across the country on innocent people in the guise of peaceful demonstrations since May 2019. They can’t fool any reasonable court about their involvement. He is probably misleading himself into believing that he can manipulate the ICC and use it as political tool.”
The ICC founding treaty, the Rome Statute, grants the international court jurisdiction over four main offences—crimes against humanity, which are serious violations committed as part of a large-scale attack against any civilian population; genocide; war crimes and crime of aggression.