CCJP SHOULD PROMOTE PEACE AND JUSTICE IMPARTIALLY
Government of Malawi
(For immediate release: 30th September, 2019)
CCJP SHOULD PROMOTE PEACE AND JUSTICE IMPARTIALLY
Government has noted with concern the unsubstantiated allegations that the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) levelled against its institutions in its statement dated 26th September, 2019.
However, Government has restrained itself from commenting on the issues that are in court as that would violate the sub judice rule.
Be that as it may, Government has observed and recorded accounts of violence and crime associated with the post-election demonstrations convened by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC).
The Public may wish to know that Government commenced proceedings seeking the intervention of the Court to temporarily suspend these violent demonstrations in order to allow parties discuss and forge the best way through which citizens would exercise their constitutional right to demonstrate without violating other people’s rights such as the right to economic activities, the right to own property, the right to freedom of movement and the right to life.
As the public may be aware, this matter is in the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal (MSCA). It must also be noted that the MSCA recommended that parties should meet and discuss ways of
eliminating violence and crime from these demonstrations, a recommendation that was agreeable to both parties.
Pursuant to this recommendation, the following steps have so far been taken:
● Parties met and agreed on several ways of eliminating violence and crime from demonstrations. Parties are yet to finalise and execute a Consent Order with the aim of guiding all stakeholders in conducting peaceful demonstrations.
● The MSCA was set to issue a preliminary ruling on the application by the Government on 25th September, 2019. Meanwhile, parties are still discussing proposals especially those that were not agreeable by both sides.
As regards the Electoral Commission (MEC) leadership, the CCJP must appreciate that two petitioners are challenging the results of 21st May, 2019 elections, claiming that they were mismanaged. CCJP should therefore understand that calling for resignation of MEC leadership on the basis of mismanagement of elections breaches the sub judice rule. CCJP should instead, help citizens understand that questions of alleged mismanagement of elections should be left to the Court for determination.
CCJP should also appreciate that its presentation of issues in its statement is misleading and does not take into account efforts employed by Government in trying to resolve issues of violence and crime.
Government is of the view that CCJP should be the first one to call for peaceful means of resolving misunderstandings and not look away when injustice is inflicted on innocent people in the name of exercising rights.
Government wishes to urge CCJP to direct the sentiments expressed in their statement towards HRDC who have been organising demonstrations that have been violent and destroyed property and harmed innocent people.
CCJP seems to infer that the right to demonstrate is more important than the right to own property or the right to personal safety and security.
Actually, it is puzzling that CCJP remained silent when HRDC demonstrations caused wanton looting, arson and injury to persons. CCJP now comes in to complain about the one incident in Blantyre, ignoring the many atrocities committed by HRDC. CCJP has thus shown itself to be partisan and political.
CCJP should also know that the Malawi Human Rights Commission is an independent body of the state. To instruct it to conduct investigations is to interfere with its independence. MHRC should be left alone to exercise its own mind.
The Malawi Police Service should be commended for exercising their duties professionally notwithstanding the animosity directed at them by the demonstrators some of whom literally undressed a female police officer whose pictures went viral. CCJP should know that that female police officer is a married person and a mother.
CCJP should also know that some of the police officer’s houses have been burnt down. CCJP may wish to visit the National Police Headquarters and appreciate the gravity of the reported cases of violence and crime associated with demonstrations convened by HRDC.
CCJP is expected to understand that it is the manner in which demonstrations are organised and conducted which is overstretching the police. CCJP needs to be reminded that security is not only for the demonstrators. Actually, it is for everyone including the police officers themselves.
The office of the Attorney General should be commended for facilitating discussions on behalf of the Government and HRDC.
Lastly, the Government would like to call upon CCJP to feel free to engage relevant Government institutions and ask for relevant information so that statements such as the one they have issued should be reflective of reality on the ground.
HON. MARK BOTOMANI, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION, CIVIC EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY