The 52nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, held in Yamoussoukro, Cote D’Ivoire from 9-22 October 2012, celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Commission.

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Last year SALC secured bail for a seriously ill prisoner in the case of Mphembedzu v The Republic MHC Bail Case No. 70 of 2011. This case sought to profile health issues in the prison population in Malawi and the bail rights afforded to detainees suffering ill-health. The case concerned the arrest of a 15-year-old boy, Mr Mphembedzu, on suspicion of homicide in 2007. For the last four years he has been remanded at Bvumbwe prison while he awaits trial.  Mr Mphembedzu is seriously if not terminally ill after contracting his illness during his imprisonment. A written judgment in this matter was only delivered in 2012. Although the judgment secured the release of Mr Mphembedzu, the precedential value of the case is to an extent diluted by the judge’s failure to engage with the issues that were before him.

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The new President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, has demonstrated in her first week in charge that her administration will be vastly different to her predecessor’s.  Bingu wa Mutharika had been in power in Malawi since 2004 but his death on 5 April 2012 came in the wake of increased opposition to his leadership and the culture of violent oppression of dissent that he had presided over in the recent past.  Although President Banda appears to have recommitted Malawi to democracy and the rule of law, SALC today wrote to the new president highlighting some of the most pressing matters needing her attention.

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Since the 9 January 2012 administrative staff from the Ministry of Justice have been on strike in Malawi. At issue is a government promise almost five years ago to grant them a 50 % salary increase which has never been fulfilled. They are also demanding that members of the judicial system be treated in the same manner as other civil servants in that their salaries should be reviewed every year and not every third year and that they must be paid their arrear wages before they return to work. They have vowed to continue to strike until their demands are met arguing that in 2008 they embarked on a similar strike  but cancelled that strike after three days when government officials promised to review their grievances. Read the rest of this entry »

SALC’s Prisons Project

September 2, 2009

JOAO SILVA for The New York Times

JOAO SILVA for The New York Times

At present SALC is supporting initiatives aimed at improving prisoners’ rights and prison conditions in Malawi. As you’ll know from our blog, Malawi’s Constitutional Court recently handed down the Evance Moyo judgement, pertaining to juvenile prisoners’ rights. Chichiri Prison in Blantyre is where Evance was imprisoned and is representative of the conditions about which we’re concerned – countless detainees are kept for years without any prospect of trial and the health and wellbeing of prisoners is seriously endangered. Here, Richard Brigden, SALC’s consultant in Malawi, describes those conditions from close-up.
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Evance Moyo v the Attorney General of Malawi is available for download here