By Jameson Chauluka:
Local civil society organisations (CSOs) have written Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, Liu Hong Yong, asking for dialogue over the fate of Malawian Estina Mwasera who was arrested in China over alleged drug trafficking.
The CSO are looking at the possibility of extraditing Mwasera so as to be tried in Malawi, saying she faces the death sentence if convicted in China.
The letter, which is dated October 30 2018, and signed by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition Board Chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba, says the CSOs want an urgent meeting with the ambassador to appeal for her extradition.
“We, the undersigned entities and bonafide citizens of Malawi, write to seek an urgent audience with your high office over the alleged fate of Ms Estina Mwasera which is to the effect that she is answering to drug trafficking offences which carries [sic] a maximum punishment of a death sentence which we are made to believe, may take effect on or by October 31 2018 as reported in social media,” reads the letter in part.
The letter notes that, while China has its own laws on how to deal with such situations, as members of the United Nations and God-fearing nation, Malawi values human life.
“Your Excellency, it is common knowledge that death sentence is irreversible and irrevocable punishment: the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated. Since 1973, for example, more than 160 prisoners sent to death row in USA [United States of America] have later been exonerated or released from death row on grounds of innocence and there is no evidence that the death penalty is any more effective in reducing crime than life imprisonment,” it reads.
The Embassy had not responded to The Daily Times’ questionnaire at the time of going to press.
Meanwhile, Young Arm Organisation, Forum for National Development, Malawi NGO Network, Concerned Citizens on Governance and Rule of Law and National advocacy Platform have since endorsed the letter.
Cases of drug trafficking involving Malawians are rising.
In April 2018, a 38-year-old woman, addicted to drugs, died in a hotel in Blantyre and, in the same month, a 26-year-old Malawian man died in Brazil, allegedly after a drug-stuffed condom he had swallowed burst before the delivery point.
On July 19 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation warned Malawians not to be used for carrying or delivering luggage or parcels to unknown contacts abroad, so as to avoid becoming unwitting drug mules.