The Malawi Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is greatly disturbed with the
continued violence during public protests across the country. Once again, the
expectation of the Commission, like everyone else’s, was that these protests would be
peaceful as has always been emphasized by the organizers, the Human Rights
Defenders Coalition (HRDC). However, to the contrary, the protests have turned violent
and ceased to be rights-based. Instead, they have become crime-based, resulting in
destruction of property, looting of businesses and occasioning of various forms of
violations of other equally important rights.

The Commission is particularly concerned with the recent attacks of the Very Reverend
Dr Killion Mgawi, a member of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), as well as
shortlisting for targeting of other MEC members and officers with similar forms of
violence. The Commission is also alive to social media reports of targeting of some
participants and organizers of the protests with reciprocal violence. The Commission
condemns these merciless and irresponsible developments of violence in the
strongest terms possible. The Commission does not believe that violence can
solve the current disputes.

The Commission is aware and appreciates that the Police have been available to provide
security to property and people in all the routes officially designated for such
demonstrations. However, it is greatly worrisome that the Police have been seen not to
be active enough in especially protecting property of the people of Malawi as well as
Government. As stated in its previous call, the Commission expects the Police to
exercise such duty by bringing to book all those that abuse the right to demonstrate
peacefully and unarmed.

The Commission has noted that this omission or inability by the Police to provide for the
effective protection of public safety and the rights of persons makes both natural and
legal persons vulnerable to protests, resulting in a sense of insecurity and stand-still of
various business processes and public service delivery in the country. If not checked,
this has the propensity to cause malady to the economy and eventual greater suffering
of the people of Malawi.

These negative effects could be avoided if peaceful means of resolving the current
electoral disputes were applied. This being the case, the Commission appeals to the
organizers of the demonstrations, the HRDC, to consider calling off the
demonstrations for now and allow room for a reflection meeting with the
Commission. While the Commission does not want to appear to limit the enjoyment of
the right to demonstrate, it nevertheless has a duty to ensure the protection of and
respect for all other equally important rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the
Republic of Malawi. The Commission believes that this is also the interest of HRDC.
Therefore, the reflection meeting would enable HRDC and the Commission to reach a
common position on the application of this duty.

The Commission also calls upon the leaderships of the various political parties to
embrace peace in all their public utterances in line with the prayer in the National
Anthem that God should keep Malawi ‘’a land of peace’’. It has been greatly worrisome
that a few leaders still use hate and provocative speech during post-election political
meetings when peace is what a nation needs. Otherwise, the Commission
commends all those leaders who lately have been preaching peace.

Further, the Commission appeals to all religious and faith-based leaders to prioritise the
teaching of peace, love and unity during this season and beyond. Likewise, the
Commission calls upon all traditional leaders to promote peaceful coexistence of all
people, irrespective of their differences in political orientation. On its part, the
Commission would soon be announcing its peace initiative in which all stakeholders and
good meaning people of Malawi would be invited to participate.

David V.K. Nungu
22nd July, 2019

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