The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has endorsed demonstrations that lawyers have organised against President Peter Mutharika’s alleged assault on the Judiciary.
The lawyers’ demonstrations are expected to be held in the country’s major cities, one of the organisers John Gift Mwakhwawa said.
A statement signed by HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence and National Coordinator Luke Tembo said attempts by the Executive to get involved in the internal affairs of the Judiciary is trespassing and capture of what should otherwise be an independent arm of government.
“We at the Human Rights Defenders Coalition fully endorse the decision by lawyers in the country to take to the streets. This is a justified and peaceful demonstration of dismay at the conduct of the Mutharika administration, in the manner he has tried to capture the Judiciary in our country by illegally changing the existing structure of the leadership in the justice delivery system for his personal political interests,” reads the statement in part.
It follows recent pronouncements by Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara that Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Supreme Court of Appeal judge Edward Twea would be proceeding on leave pending retirement after accumulating more leave days than those remaining before their tenures expire.
Mwakhwawa said in Blantyre the demonstrations will start from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital to the High Court; in Lilongwe, the lawyers will march from Mbowe Filling Station to the High Court while in Mzuzu, they will gather at Shoprite Complex before proceeding to the High Court.
In Zomba, the marchers will start at the District Commissioner’s office before proceeding to the High Court.
“Right now we are in a planning meeting,” Mwakhwawa said Tuesday.
Mutharika has come under fire locally and internationally for his administration’s move to send Nyirenda on forced leave pending retirement.
The Southern African Chief Justices’ Forum, the law professors and academics, Public Affairs Committee and several other local and international organisations are among those that have censured the President for what they call an unwarranted assault on the Judiciary.
Meanwhile government insists that Nyirenda should proceed on leave pending retirement.