Tuesday
August, 16

Malawians Arrested In Anti-‘Selective Justice’ Protests

In Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, police have detained 75 people, among them human rights activists, as part of a crackdown on demonstrations against the country’s judicial system’s “selective justice.”

A last-minute high court injunction that sought to stop the demonstrations was followed by the arrests.

Hastings Chigalu, a spokesman for the police, confirmed the arrests on Wednesday and claimed that “lawlessness” was to blame for them, with people robbing stores, breaking into them, wrecking cars, and obstructing highways.

Kingsley Mpaso, one of the demonstration organizers of the Lilongwe-based civil rights organization Human Rights Ambassadors, told the media that his group was undeterred by the arrests and that demonstrators would continue to demonstrate until justice was served.

The activists are protesting what they perceive to be selective justice administered by the country’s judiciary in recent months in Southern Africa. They referenced the case of Mussa John, a youngster who was caught with cannabis and received an eight-year prison sentence from a magistrate’s court. A well-known businessman who was supposedly caught growing the plant in his compound merely received a fine from the courts.

This sparked controversy when people on social media pointed out the inconsistencies in the decisions, sparking demonstrations and a high court review of John’s case.

Authorities claim that the activists went on a vandalism rampage as the heavily armed police attempted to disperse the hundreds of protestors who had assembled. According to witnesses, the police used tear gas to scatter the gathering.

A number of ongoing legal matters, such as the one involving Norman Chisale, a former bodyguard of former President Peter Mutharika, who has been charged with corruption after failing to account for his large riches, are among the other complaints of the campaigners.

READ MORE: Iran Recalls Ambassador To Sweden Over Hamid Noury Sentencing

The trial of former minister of the lands Kezzie Msukwa, who has been implicated in kickbacks for contracts worth more than $150 million, has been delayed, which has angered protesters as well. Even though some of the scandal’s top officials have been suspended by President Lazarus Chakwera, the protesters urged swift public trials.

Despite a court order issued just hours earlier to cease the protests by a group of so-called “concerned citizens,” they continued. Authorities reportedly also requested a list of names of those who would serve as guarantors for the demonstrations would be peaceful.

However, attempts to stop the protests resulted in chaotic scenes as people blocked roads and set fire to car tires throughout the city.

Gospel Kazako, the minister of information, did not answer when Al Jazeera asked for a response.

Alexious Kamangila, a human rights advocate and lawyer based in Lilongwe, told Al Jazeera that the protest organizers met all legal conditions for holding demonstrations.

“The injunction against the demonstrations is unfortunate as it is unfounded at law,” he said. “The court has set new requirements that are not provided by our laws. For instance, the court cannot require the conveners to provide names of participants to be held liable when all the law requires are details for the conveners,” Kamangila said.

“How does the court expect the conveners to have the names of participants in advance when these are public demonstrations and people just show up on the day?” he asked.

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

- Advertisement -

Our newsletter gives you access to a curated selection of the most important stories daily.

- Advertisement -

Must Read

Adoga Stephen
Adoga Stephen is a trained journalist, researcher, creative writer and freelancer. He studied Mass Communication at the Lagos State University of Science and Technology (then Laspotech) and acquired requisite skills for the practice of journalism, a profession he has been practicing since 2016.

In Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, police have detained 75 people, among them human rights activists, as part of a crackdown on demonstrations against the country’s judicial system’s “selective justice.”

A last-minute high court injunction that sought to stop the demonstrations was followed by the arrests.

Hastings Chigalu, a spokesman for the police, confirmed the arrests on Wednesday and claimed that “lawlessness” was to blame for them, with people robbing stores, breaking into them, wrecking cars, and obstructing highways.

Kingsley Mpaso, one of the demonstration organizers of the Lilongwe-based civil rights organization Human Rights Ambassadors, told the media that his group was undeterred by the arrests and that demonstrators would continue to demonstrate until justice was served.

The activists are protesting what they perceive to be selective justice administered by the country’s judiciary in recent months in Southern Africa. They referenced the case of Mussa John, a youngster who was caught with cannabis and received an eight-year prison sentence from a magistrate’s court. A well-known businessman who was supposedly caught growing the plant in his compound merely received a fine from the courts.

This sparked controversy when people on social media pointed out the inconsistencies in the decisions, sparking demonstrations and a high court review of John’s case.

Authorities claim that the activists went on a vandalism rampage as the heavily armed police attempted to disperse the hundreds of protestors who had assembled. According to witnesses, the police used tear gas to scatter the gathering.

A number of ongoing legal matters, such as the one involving Norman Chisale, a former bodyguard of former President Peter Mutharika, who has been charged with corruption after failing to account for his large riches, are among the other complaints of the campaigners.

READ MORE: Iran Recalls Ambassador To Sweden Over Hamid Noury Sentencing

The trial of former minister of the lands Kezzie Msukwa, who has been implicated in kickbacks for contracts worth more than $150 million, has been delayed, which has angered protesters as well. Even though some of the scandal’s top officials have been suspended by President Lazarus Chakwera, the protesters urged swift public trials.

Despite a court order issued just hours earlier to cease the protests by a group of so-called “concerned citizens,” they continued. Authorities reportedly also requested a list of names of those who would serve as guarantors for the demonstrations would be peaceful.

However, attempts to stop the protests resulted in chaotic scenes as people blocked roads and set fire to car tires throughout the city.

Gospel Kazako, the minister of information, did not answer when Al Jazeera asked for a response.

Alexious Kamangila, a human rights advocate and lawyer based in Lilongwe, told Al Jazeera that the protest organizers met all legal conditions for holding demonstrations.

“The injunction against the demonstrations is unfortunate as it is unfounded at law,” he said. “The court has set new requirements that are not provided by our laws. For instance, the court cannot require the conveners to provide names of participants to be held liable when all the law requires are details for the conveners,” Kamangila said.

“How does the court expect the conveners to have the names of participants in advance when these are public demonstrations and people just show up on the day?” he asked.

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Our newsletter gives you access to a curated selection of the most important stories daily.

Specially For You

- Advertisement -

Recommended

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -