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‘Malawi needs to improve on public service delivery’

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Human rights organisations have commended Malawi for making progress in coming up with relevant laws, and policies in respect to human rights.

They however say poor delivery of public social services is compromising people’s rights in the country.

The organisations have given their position as Malawi joins the rest of the world in commemorating international human rights day today.

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Executive secretary for Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), Grace Malera, said the translation of the progressive bill of human rights in the Constitution into practice continues to face challenges.

“There are huge unmet needs in public social services delivery areas such as education, water, electricity as well as the high cost of living which affects people’s social and economic rights. There are also some critical areas that lack enabling legislation such as access to information,” she said.

Traditional Authority Chowe of Mangochi said since Malawi was introduced to human rights, there has been tremendous progress in implementation of human rights programmes.

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“The only problem is that people don’t understand their responsibilities as they infringe on people’s rights and this ends in infringing on other people’s human rights.

“You will find people listening to loud music in the night claiming that they are exercising their human rights yet others would want to have a peaceful sleep at the same time,” he said.

Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep) and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) have highlighted that there is a violation of people’s social and economic rights and right to education among others.

They cited persistent water shortage and electricity blackouts, closure of public universities, high levels of corruption in the government, the collapsing economy, threats of human rights defenders and media freedom, violence against people with albinisms and sexual minorities and extra-judicial killings which is a threat to governance and freedom of expression.

In their joint statement released to commemorate international human rights day, the two organisations have called on Malawians to demand good governance and development from government.

They also reminded government of its primary role that it is supposed to protect its citizens.

“The President and the Cabinet took an oath to protect and defend the Republican Constitution, where human rights and good governance are enshrined. Failure to deliver is tantamount to violating the human rights of Malawians,” says part of the statement.

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10th December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year’s commemoration is observed under the theme: “Stand up for someone’s rights today”.

Some of the provisions in Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

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