LILONGWE–The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) concludes in an investigative report published on Monday that the state of the rule of law in Malawi is ‘on the road to recovery’ but that some important issues still need to be remedied in order for Malawi to fully restore the rule of law.
To mark the publication of Rule of Law in Malawi: The Road to Recovery, a high-level panel discussion took place in Lilongwe on Monday 3 September 2012. The panel included a member of the IBAHRI fact-finding delegation that travelled to Malawi in January 2012 to research serious concerns regarding violations of the rule of law, particularly the separation of powers, the Executive’s disregard for the Constitution, and lack of observance for basic human rights.
The panel discussed the significant progress made in respect for the rule of law since the change in Presidency in April 2012 and the recommendations of the 56-page Report. Included in the Report’s list of recommendations are:
· The need to augment the capacities in the criminal justice sector, notably to reduce the length of pre-trial detention;
· To ensure that police officers involved in the July 2011 riots be brought to trial and punished accordingly if found guilty;
· To ensure the process for judicial selection is transparent and that there are institutionalised checks and balances on executive control over the process;
· To ensure that legal provisions dealing with media and freedom of the press respect constitutional provisions and international obligations;
· To continue current efforts to address issues that have led to the deterioration in the relationship between the government of Malawi and donor nations and organisations; and
· To strengthen those institutions supporting the rule of law and good governance, particularly the Malawi Human Rights Commission, the Malawi Law Commission, the Malawi Electoral Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Commenting on the delegation’s findings Sternford Moyo, IBAHRI Co-Chair, said, ‘On an international level, the government of Malawi should take immediate action to comply with its reporting obligations under international human rights treaties, and, as recommended in the IBAHRI Report, the international donor community should monitor the changes taking place in Malawi and look for opportunities to support efforts made towards the restoration of the rule of law.’
The discussions were moderated by Richard Lee, Communications Manager, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). Panelists were Tinoziva Bere, President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe and IBAHRI delegation member; Marshal Chilenga, Commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission; and John-Gift Mwakhwawa, President of the Malawi Law Society.Background to IBAHRI fact-finding delegation
The IBAHRI delegation of legal experts visited Malawi from 8 – 14 January 2012. The aim of the fact-finding mission was to assess the state of the rule of law in Malawi. Particular emphasis was placed on assessing the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession. Other issues covered were the state of human rights in the country, particularly following the 20 July 2011 riots.
Consultations were held in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba with government representatives, judges, lawyers, representatives of international organisations, and non-governmental organisations.
The fact-finding delegation comprised: Justice Leona Theron Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa; Professor Christine Chinkin Professor of international law at the London School of Economics and Political Science in London; Tinoziva Bere Lawyer and President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe; and Ottilia Anna Maunganidze (rapporteur) Researcher for the Transnational Threats and International Crime Division at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa.
to download the IBAHRI report Rule of Law in Malawi: The Road to Recovery
---©2012 The Maravi Post.