Civil Society Organisations (CSO) under the banner Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has reported the government of Malawi to the United Nations Human Rights Commission for human rights abuses in the country.
The CSOs reported the government in a letter addressed to the commission on October 7, signed by HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence.
Among other things, the CSOs claim that the government is denying people their constitutional right to assemble and demonstrate.
“HRDC was dismayed to see an assemblage of the governing party operatives (Democratic Progressive Party cadets) that began pelting stones and beating peaceful and unarmed demonstrators with iron bars in full view of the Malawi Police. Malawi Police did nothing to protect the citizens and peaceful demonstrators, [they] instead opted to run away,” reads the letter.
The CSOs have also complained of alleged government sponsored terror on human rights activists during protests including the assault of Billy Mayaya in full view of the police.
“Billy Mayaya alongside four others were brutally attacked by these governing party operatives (DPP cadets). As one of the conveners of the demonstrations, Billy Mayaya was targeted and heavily beaten with a metal bar and was stoned for exercising his right to assemble with others peacefully and unarmed. He sustained major injuries with multiple and deep lacerations and he and four others were hospitalised and battling for their lives,” reads the letter.
The rights body has also reported government for police attacks which saw them fire teargas canisters at patients at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital thereby suffocating patients who were not part of the anti-Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah protest.
United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, which is headquartered in Geneva, has since acknowledge receipt of the report.
“I would like to formally confirm receipt of your organisation of complaint at the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” reads a correspondence from the commission.
Minister of Information, Mark Botomani, said CSOs must report the truth to international organisations while appreciating that the Mutharika-led government has ensured human rights for citizens.
“Government categorically refutes allegations made by HRDC members in their report to the UN that government is stifling people’s rights and freedoms.
“As a matter of fact, it is this Mutharika administration that is credited with upholding human and people’s rights and ensuring that Malawians enjoy the same,” Botomani said.
He further claimed that the government has never stopped or attempted to stop demonstrations.
“However, in ensuring that Malawians continue to enjoy peace and that there is sustained law and order, government condemns violent demonstrations which have resulted in destruction of government as well as people’s property. The brutal killing of a police officer on duty is also a result of the same wave of demonstrations,’’ Botomani said.