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Financial woes cripple MHRC investigations

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Michael Kaiyatsa

By Wezzie Gausi:

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) says it has been forced to shelve some of its crucial investigations due to lack of funding.

MHRC said among the stalled investigations include those in human trafficking, abuses in prisons and some labour-related issues.

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In the 2022-23 National Budget, Treasury allocated K1. 3 billion to MHRC.

MHRC Executive Secretary Habiba Osman said in an interview with Times that it is common knowledge that most government institutions have been having financial challenges for some time now, MHRC being one of them.

“For MHRC to run its activities and serve the nation well, we need adequate funding. There have been many human rights abuses that have been coming out. The most recent ones being on labour issues.

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“As an institution, our hands are tied as to how best we would conduct all the investigations on our plate with minimal resources. We receive funding but the funding is not enough for us to fulfill our mandate in safeguarding human rights,” Osman said.

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa said it is unfortunate to have investigations on violation of human rights stalled.

He said it was high time the government started prioritizing institutions like MHRC that are critical in safeguarding the human rights of citizens.

“Malawi being a signatory to different human rights declarations, it is of high importance that institutions like MHRC receive adequate funding for them to perform their constitutional duties including conducting investigations on human rights abuses.

“When MHRC fails to conduct investigations, it gives powers to human rights abuse perpetrators to continue infringing on the rights of people knowing that nothing will happen to them,” Kaiyatsa said.

MHRC was established under section 129 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.

The Constitution vests on MHRC the broad mandate of the promotion, protection and investigation of violations, of human rights.

MHRC investigates violations of human rights on its own motion or upon complaints received from any person, class of person or body.

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