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United Nations calls for impartial probe of police officers

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The United Nations (UN) office in Malawi has called for impartial investigations of police officers who reportedly raped 18 women and girls in M’bwatalika and Mpingu in Lilongwe West.

In a statement signed by UN Resident Coordinator Benoit Thiry, the organisation has described the High Court judgment in favour of the survivors as a step forward in addressing sexual crimes in Malawi.

“Further to this judgment, it is now important that national authorities ensure a prompt, effective and impartial investigation so that all persons suspected of crimes in this case are subjected to criminal processes,” Thiry said.

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He added that the survivors should be provided necessary support and assistance.

“The UN reiterates its commitment to continue supporting the government and the people of Malawi to uphold human rights, in particular to work together to end violence against women and girls throughout the country.

“Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace,” said Thiry.

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The UN has also hailed the Women Lawyers Association (WLA) for playing a vital role in bringing the case to the attention of the High Court and reinforcing the constitutional right of survivors of sexual violence to access justice and effective remedies for the harm that they have suffered.

WLA sued the Malawi government seeking redress and accountability for the violation of the rights of the women and girls who were apparently subjected to violence, rape and sexual assault in the said areas.

The attack was apparently in retaliation for the brutal murder of a police officer who had gone to Msundwe to quell protests that some people were staging against then-president Peter Mutharika.

On Thursday last week, the High Court ordered that police officers who sexually assaulted the women and girls should be arrested within 30 days.

The court also faulted the MPS for failing to take a number of assignments including producing a report of its investigations into the sexual assault allegations.

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