The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has said it will report the government to the United Nations (UN) and the African Commission for the government’s failure to protect, respect and uphold people’s constitutional rights in particular the right to assembly and hold peaceful demonstrations.
HRDC’s Chairperson Timothy Mtambo said in a telephone interview that the Peter Mutharika administration is operating against the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which Malawi is a signatory.
Mtambo said this in reaction to reports that the Malawi Police Service (MPS) was exploring enforcing a shoot-to-kill policy to the demonstrators as well as a statement by Minister of Information threatening people that police would use “necessary force to halt demonstrations”.
Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the right to peaceful assembly shall be recognised and that no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society.
“We are going to report them to the UN, we are also going to report them to the African Commission, we will report globally so that international community knows what Malawian leaders are doing to people,” Mtambo said.
But Minister of Information Mark Botomani has challenged HRDC to proceed with the decision.
“The Mtambos started organising protests in this country long time ago and no one restrained them, but now the government is against destructive protests. That is why the President [Peter Mutharika] even came in to say we cannot allow violent protests to go on,” Bottomani said.
Speaking in Mangochi last week, Mutharika in his capacity as Commander-in- Chief ordered the Malawi Defense Force and the Malawi Prison Service to deal with anyone taking part in the purported demonstrations.
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