We, the participants in the NGO Forum in the 50th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 24th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 19th – 21st October, 2011 in Banjul, The Gambia
Asserting the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights (adopted 27 June 1981), which has reached its 30th year, and reflecting on the prescribed articles: article 3- equality before the law and protection by the law; article 4- respect for human life; article 6- right to liberty; article 7- right to be heard and presumption of innocence until proven guilty; article 9: right to receive information and express and disseminate such information with thin the law; article 10- freedom of association; article 11- freedom of assembly; article 12- freedom of movement;
The Forum on the participation of NGOs urges the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to adopt a resolution:
Alarmed by the rapid deterioration of rule of law, rapid erosion of human rights and academic freedom, abuse of executive power in Malawi as evidenced by recent events, which indicates that the country is fast sliding towards undemocratic rule, where impunity and terror are now firmly entrenched;
Shock at the reversal of democratic gains made by Malawi post the Banda era;
Appraised, of the tragedy that befell 20 innocent civilians who were gunned down by the police for simply exercising their rights of freedom of expression and right to be heard; [faced with economic decline largely due to poor government policies, Malawians embarked on a peaceful protest to demand that shortage of fuel, rising prices of basic commodities and erratic electricity supply be addressed by government. The protesters, made up of ordinary civilians were met with batons and bullets].
Fully cognisant of that 20 July 2011 is day that shall live in infamy;
Saddened by the murder of Robert Chasowa a university student; while
Extending deepest sympathies to the family members of those who lost loved ones in the 20 July killings and to the family of Robert Chasowa;
We call upon the African Union to urge the Government of Malawi to:
Make a pronouncement and act upon such a pronouncement, to immediately publicise the autopsy report of the 20 innocent lives that were lost on 20 July 2011
If there is no autopsy report, commence immediate process of exhumation of bodies
Appoint an independent pathologist, one that meets the satisfaction of an appropriate oversight committee in parliament
Set up a Coroner’s Inquest to establish the facts leading up to the unnecessary loss of life on 20 July, as well as the murder of Robert Chasowa in 24 September 2011
Make strong recommendations for justice, peace and reconciliation so that impunity does not go unpunished
Hold the Inquest in an open court where witnesses are encouraged to come forward and testify and are guaranteed protection
Desists from intimidating and harassing civic leaders, human rights defenders and academics.
Re-open the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College immediately and guarantee academic freedom to both lecturers and students
Reinstate the lecturers who are currently suspended, because it is clear that they are being victimised for their pursuit of justice as clearly stipulated in the Malawian Constitution [section 44(1) and 45(3)].
To repeal the injunction bill which impinges on the right to legal remedy as enshrined in the constitution of Malawi and other regional, continental and international treaties.
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defender’s undertake a promotional mission to Malawi to investigate human rights abuses and threats to human rights defenders in that country.
Done in Banjul – 21st October, 2011