Two local human rights bodies have petitioned the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland to place a special focus on Malawi to improve its compliance with international human rights conventions.
The organisations, Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), also want the country to meaningfully commit to implementing and domesticating the instruments in a comprehensive manner.
In the petition dated August 31 2016 sent to OHCHR’s human rights officer for Africa Branch (East and Southern Africa) Abigail Noko, Cedep and CHRR have observed that since 2011, local and international organisations have raised concern over a number of serious human rights violations in the country which are recurring in 2016.
Among others, they have cited the brutal killing of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) senior officer Issa Njaunju and alleged threats to human rights defenders and political activists.
“The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, United Nations through the Universal Periodic Review [UPR], treaty bodies such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] and Malawi’s civil society organisations have been raising a number of serious human rights concerns in the country since 2011 and same cases have been recurring in 2016,” reads part of the petition.
The groups expect the issues raised in the petition will be brought to the attention of government and acted on “considering that the issues have taken long without being resolved and keep resurfacing.”
“Malawi has an obligation to protect human rights defenders, journalists, political activists and academicians as enshrined in the constitution and international conventions on human rights to which it is signatory to,” reads the petition.
But reacting to the petition in an interview yesterday, special adviser on civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Mavuto Bamusi said government has deepened commitment towards addressing the issues raised.
“The matters raised are already being given serious attention by government. Currently government is pushing for resources to enable the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to address matters of human rights and governance so I would like to confirm to CHRR and
Cedep that all the matters they have raised will be addressed in detail by the ministry,” said Bamusi. n