By Mandy Pondani:
Malawi is among African countries that are yet to ratify the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on The Rights of Older Persons in Africa, authorities at the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare have confirmed.
The development exposes Malawi’s non-commitment to the protection of elderly people.
University of Pretoria international human rights expert, Patience Mpani, described the development as a setback.
“Since the African Union (AU) heads of State and government adopted the protocol in 2016, only six countries have signed it and only one, which is Zimbabwe, has ratified it. There is need, therefore, to engage the governments on the matter,” Mpani said.
But Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare spokesperson, Lucy Bandazi, said preliminary diplomatic administrative protocols had been initiated towards signing and ratification of the protocol.
“The preliminary diplomatic administrative protocols have been initiated and, once the necessary steps have been concluded, Malawi will sign the protocol. Hopefully, before this year ends, we will sign this protocol,” she said on Wednesday.
Bandazi said the developmen t of the National Older Persons Bill, which the ministry is working on, is guided by a number of international legal instruments and principles on older persons.
“It does not require a member State to first sign the AU protocol and then develop its own framework,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by spokesperson in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Pirirani Masanjala, who said non-ratification of a treaty or protocol does not bar Malawi from formulating its own laws as AU protocols, for instance, exist just to ensure continental consensus on matters.
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