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Protect rights during lockdown—activist

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MWAKASUNGULA — Monitoring mechanisms must be put in place

Human rights activist Undule Mwakasungula has called on the government to ensure the human rights and dignity of Malawians are respected and protected during the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown.

President Peter Mutharika and Minister of Health Jappie Mhango announced the lockdown from the midnight of Saturday April 18 to May 9 2020 to contain the spread of the virus.

The lockdown comes at a time the number of Covid-19 cases in the country has risen to 16. The country has also recorded two Covid-19 related deaths.

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In a statement released Sunday, Mwakasungula said while the lockdown is necessary, the government should ensure that rights of Malawians are sustained.

“We have heard of human rights abuse in several countries where such measures [lockdown] are being implemented. We hear of law enforcement agencies harassing and abusing citizens in Kenya and South Africa, among other countries. So, it is our appeal that this lockdown will not lead to abuses here at home,” Mwakasungula said.

He then warned that abusive implementation of the lockdown will undermine other efforts being implemented to contain the pandemic.

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“Law enforcement agencies need to know that a public emergency does not change the prohibition on police abuse and that monitoring mechanisms must be put in place to detect and punish abuses especially against women and girls,” he said.

Earlier this week, Mhango, who also chairs the Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus, announced closure of central markets across the country and restrictions on the time markets in locations will be opening and closing, among several other measures.

Yesterday, the Malawi Defence Force and Malawi Police Service confirmed they will start deploying officers in various places across the country to enforce the new restrictions.

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