Refugees treatment ‘shocks’ rights body
By Wezzie Gausi:
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has expressed shock at the “harsh manner” in which the relocation of refugees and asylum seekers back to Dzaleka Camp is being carried out by law enforcement agencies.
The concern by CHRR came a day after the Public Affairs Committee had urged the law enforcement agencies to attach a human face to the exercise.
In an interview Wednesday, CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa said his organisation has seen “shocking footage” of refugees and asylum seekers being subjected to cruel, inhuman and humiliating treatment as they are forced into “overcrowded army and police vehicles where they are packed like sardines”.
Kaiyatsa said government needs to be reminded that refugees and asylum seekers, just like everyone else, have the right to be protected from any kind of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by anyone, including law enforcement agents.
“Section 19(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi states clearly that no person shall be subject to torture of any kind or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
“In forcefully relocating the refugees and asylum seekers, the law enforcement agents are going as far as illegally and harshly seizing property belonging to refugees and asylum seekers,” Kaiyatsa claimed.
On his part, Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson Gift Trapence argued that there is no court order that has been issued for the confiscation of the refugees’ containers or merchandise.
He said the government must change the approach being used to relocate the refugees.
“We remind government that countries that have signed the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees are obliged to protect refugees on their territory and to treat them humanely and according to internationally recognised standards,” Trapence said.
Meanwhile CHRR has urged the Malawi Human Rights Commission to investigate how the relocation exercise is being handled, particularly to determine if it is being done in line with regional and international standards relating to the treatment of refugees.
Recently Minister of Homeland Security Ken Zikhale Ng’oma claimed there are 552 foreign nationals who are answering war crimes in their countries but are “parading themselves as refugees”.
The relocation of the refugees started last week in Lilongwe before spreading across the country.