Malawi Law Society (MLS) has condemned arrests of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders and regretted the position taken by President Peter Mutharika and other governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leaders.
MLS, in a statement issued yesterday signed by its president Burton Mhango and honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde, says the arrests of HRDC deputy chairperson Gift Trapence and the Reverend McDonald Sembereka on Sunday, immediately after remarks made by Mutharika to deal with HRDC, clearly reflected political interference by the State and lack of independence in the Malawi Police Service (MPS).
Reads the statement in part: “The Law Society, therefore, unreservedly condemns this political interference in the operations of the Malawi Police and calls upon the Malawi Police to immediately release the two and act independently and professionally.
“The Law Society wishes to clarify and put into proper context the views expressed in The Nation of 10th March 2020 suggesting that the society defends the police action of effecting arrests at the direction of political leaders of the DPP.
“The said sentiments were made to confirm that the Malawi Police Service has the power under Section 124 of the Penal Code to arrest any person who incites another to commit an offence and were never in support of the present arrests.”
During a rally held at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre on Sunday, Mutharika and other party leaders vowed to deal with HRDC leaders for threatening to close down State residences should the President not assent to Electoral Reforms Bills and fire MEC commissioners.
“In this regard, the Law Society strongly condemns the approach adopted by the Democratic Progressive Party leadership at its Njamba Rally [on Sunday] and calls upon all political players to avoid the inflammatory language as was employed at that rally,” reads the MLS statement.
The Law Society repeated the call for MPS to act professionally and independent of any person as required by the law.