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MHRC to escalate Issa Njauju matter

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The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has hinted at reporting to international bodies the developments surrounding investigations of the murder of Issa Njauju who, until his death, was director of administration at the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB).

MHRC says it is concerned about the apparent delays and waning commitment among those involved in the investigations into what is seen as one of the country’s most high-profile murders.

Njauju was killed over a year ago and his body was found half-buried behind the presidential villas in Lilongwe while his official car was found burnt to ashes at Mtsiriza—a peri-urban township west of Area 47.

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Last month, National Police Spokesperson, Nicholas Gondwa, told this paper that police were having difficulties in concluding their investigations apparently because the killers were very sophisticated.

Then last week, Gondwa announced that the police had raised the tip-off stake on the murder from K1.5 million to K2 million, an apparent admission that there is little or no progress at all on the matter.

In response to our questionnaire yesterday, MHRC Chairperson, Justin Dzonzi, said the possibility of reporting the developments surrounding the investigations to regional and international human rights mechanisms within the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) mechanisms is there.

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“The Malawi Human Rights Commission has the constitutional and statutory responsibility of having recourse to these mechanisms in appropriate circumstances.

“In addition, the Commission will also use in-country reporting mechanisms, for example, to Parliament and other relevant authorities on its findings from its oversight role on the investigations on the murder of Mr. Issa Njauju,” Dzonzi said.

He added that the inordinate delays in concluding the investigations and ensuring that all suspects are prosecuted is raising implications for the right to access to justice and equality before the law among other issues.

Two people, a local sand miner and a police officer, were arrested in connection to the murder which is said to continue raising fears at the graft-busting body.

Dzonzi said MHRC is engaging relevant authorities, including the office of the Inspector General (IG) of Police and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to probe into the delays and waning commitment in ensuring that the necessary actions are expeditiously carried out.

“While the Commission does not have a criminal investigations mandate, it has an oversight role over processes and the functioning of mechanisms that have a bearing on the promotion and protection of the human rights of people in Malawi, hence the interest of the Commission to ensure that the law expeditiously and effectively takes its course with respect to the murder of Mr. Issa Njauju,” Dzonzi said.

The brutal killing of Njauju was widely linked to his job, particularly activities relating to investigations on the plunder of public funds dubbed Cashgate.

Different stakeholders including donors have been calling on government to ensure all resources are made available to investigation agencies so that they can get to the bottom of the gruesome murder.

Other stakeholders including the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) have proposed that if police are sincere in their claims that they are facing difficulties in their investigations on the murder, they should consider engaging investigation agencies within the region.

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