Human rights issues will now receive special attention at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Lilongwe following establishment of a designated section to handle such cases.
The development comes at a time when Malawi has joined the rest of the world in commemorating 30 years of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
Speaking at the launch of the Human Rights section on Friday, Solicitor General Janet Banda, said the establishment of the section is an indication that government is serious about entrenching a culture of human rights and the rule of law in the country.
“The launch of the section will help government to coordinate human rights issues with stakeholders like the civil society organisations,” she said.
Banda said, among other things, the section will coordinate implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan, which will be launched soon. She also said her ministry was pleased with the enactment of the Access to Information (ATI) Bill into law.
She described the enactment of the Bill as a human rights issue that has helped to put her ministry on the map in terms of good governance. Banda promised that government will work with the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) in ensuring the needed smooth rolling out of the new law.
Centre for the Development of People chief executive officer Gift Trapence applauded government for establishing a section in the ministry to deal with human rights issues, promising that his office will work with the ministry in ensuring professional handling of such matters.
“Now that government has designated a full office to deal with human rights issues, I am hopeful that State-party reports to the United Nations will no longer be taking years to be submitted, as had been the case in the past,” he said.
According to inside sources, the establishment of the section on human rights has been influenced by an increasing volume of work the ministry was handling.
In three decades under oneparty dictatorship, few brave individuals could seek legal recourse for human rights breaches, but such cases have blossomed since Malawians embraced multiparty rule after a national referendum on 14 June 1993.