It is just a matter of time before the United Nations turns on the sanction button against the current government led by Mrs.Joyce Banda.
This is mainly following Malawi Governmentâs failure to uphold Human Rights and other laws of natural justice as enshrined in the UNâs Convention on Human Rights.
Section 19 of the Convention asserts that âeveryone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interferenceâ.
About the media, the Convention adds: everyone has the right âto seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiersâ.
In 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee adopted what is known as the General Comment No 34, which constitutes an authoritative interpretation of the freedoms of opinion and expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The General Comment strengthens the protection of international law on freedom of expression and provides authoritative guidance to state actors, including the Courts of Law in its member states of which Malawi is inclusive.
According to Article 19, a well-known international organisation which is committed to defend the right to freedom of expression and fights against repression of the media, both the UN Convention and its subsequent General Comment define freedom of opinion and freedom of expression as indispensable conditions for the full development of a person.
The organisation adds that freedom of opinion and expression are essential for any democratic society considering that such rights âconstitute the foundation stone for every free and democratic society.
âThe two freedoms are closely related, with freedom of expression providing the vehicle for the exchange and development of opinionsâ outlines Article 19.
As such, one can question whether Malawi is a democratic state or an authoritarian one which demands people to tow to the opinion of the government.
The current government in Malawi has been criticised by various organisations such as Council of NGOs in Malawi for flouting various sections of the Republic Constitution.
According to Article 19, âfreedom of expression is a necessary condition for the realisation of the principles of transparency and accountability that are, in turn, essential for the promotion and protection of human rightsâ.
Malawi is also likely to face the wrath of its donors, particularly the United Kingdom which has not hidden its commitment to promoting freedom of expression within its borders and countries it supports, such as Malawi.
âDemocratic governments must protect the freedom of the internet â even when it provokes crises like the recent anti-Islamic videoâ, the UKâs Foreign Secretary, William Hague spoke at a global conference early this month.
He argued that suppression of online media is undemocratic and uncalled for. âIf we go down that path [of restraining or censoring the internet], we begin to erode the hard-won rights of freedom of expressionâ, stressed the Foreign Minister.
In countries where democracy is embraced, a free, uncensored and unhindered press or other media is considered as essential to ensure freedom of opinion and expression and the enjoyment of other Covenant rights.
Ironically, the Malawi Constitution, particularly Section 35 and 36, vehemently affirm that âevery person shall have the right to freedom of expressionâ and that âthe press shall have the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public informationâ.
However, the Malawi government today descended on the Media fraternity based on what the Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has called âoutmoded pieces of legislation enacted during the colonial era to suppress dissent and promote colonial superiorityâ.
Through its machinery, the Government of Joyce Banda sent two heavy armoured Land Cruisers to net Justice Mponda who has so far been charged for publishing false information and insulting the president.
So far, MISA has issued a strong-worded press statement calling for the immediate release of Mponda. The statement revealed that MISA âis shocked and deeply saddened with the detention ofâŠMponda [on the basis of laws which are] archaic and retrogressive for our countryâ.
According to Misa, âarchaic laws have no role to play in a democracyâ. The charter has far called upon government to desist from dragging the country to the colonial era by implementing such laws.
âWe are also shocked and disturbed with the conduct of the police who have transferred Mponda 340 kilometers away from Blantyre to Lilongweâ, reads the statement.
âThis is torture and a clear demonstration by the law enforcers that they are not through with investigations and taking deliberate steps to subject Mponda to mental and physical tortureâ, it added.
âGovernment has all the resources at its disposal and clearly capable of keeping Mponda in Blantyre. Subjecting Mponda to mental and physical torture is unconstitutional and should not be condoned in our day and ageâ, concluded MISA while demanding the release of Mponda on bail within 48 hours.
In a turn of events, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ralph Kasambara, is reported to have conceded that charges placed against Mponda are used to suppress Government critics.
âWe all know how these twin offences [sedition or inciting public action against the president] are used by theâŠadministration to harass opposition and civic society leaders; and no such case has been prosecuted to its logical conclusionâ, Kasambara said earlier this year.
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