Mob justice linked to security lapses
The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has expressed worry over increased cases of violence in the country, urging the government to tighten public security in a bid to quell public dissatisfaction.
In a general statement released on April 4 with the aim of addressing a number of national issues, MLS president, John Suzi Banda, and honorary secretary, Khumbo Soko, have condemned perpetrators of mob justice, the Mzuzu political violence, the President’s failure to respond to legislators’ questions in the National Assembly, the abductions and killing of citizens with albinism and inadequate funding to the Legal Aid Bureau.
In the statement, MLS observes that cases of mob justice have taken centre stage in the country.
“The Society affirms that the principle of rule of law is at the heart of the constitutional order that our Republic adopted in 1994. This principle proceeds on the assumption that in civilised societies, such as ours, people have consciously and deliberately chosen to be governed by law and the institutions that it creates rather than by the vagaries of popular passion. It is on the basis of this understanding that the Society is dismayed by increasing cases of people taking the law into their own hands. Mob justice is plainly unlawful,” the MLS statement reads in part.
MLS has, therefore, called on the law enforcement agencies to robustly investigate all mob justice cases and bring perpetrators to book. It also urges the executive arm of the government to provide adequate funding to police.
However, MLS observes that some of the cases could be perpetuated by lack of confidence in justice systems.
“The Society recognises that there might be legitimate public disaffection with the way that the formal criminal justice system operates in our Republic. On average, cases take unreasonably long periods of time to be completed and some of the sentences passed by the courts might not be adequately expressive of societal abhorrence for the criminal conduct in question. The weight of these grievances notwithstanding, the Society is firm in its belief that nothing can ever justify the scourge of mob justice,” MLS adds in the statement.
MLS also condemns the violence that marred an opposition rally organised by the Malawi Congress Party, People’s Party and Alliance for Democracy on March 20. It describes police’s failure to tame the violence as “abdication of duty”, adding that “This abdication of duty by the Malawi Police Service is unconstitutional and deserving of censure”.
Banda and Soko also take issues with presidents’ failure to appear in the National Assembly for purposes of answering its members’ questions.
It says the Constitution puts accountability and transparency at the centre of all exercise of state power, urging President Peter Mutharika to personally present himself to the National Assembly for purposes of answering questions that may lawfully be put to him by its members.
The other issues raised in the statement are concerns about continued violations of the rights of people with albinism and inadequate funding to Legal Aid Bureau.
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