The High Court of Malawi has refused to allow Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to join the case between the Office of the Ombudsman and Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) as friends of the court.
In the case, Mera obtained a court order stopping Ombudsman Grace Malera from presenting findings of an investigation into the recruitment of Mera chief executive officer Henry Kachaje.
In his ruling in Lilongwe yesterday, High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda observed that it would be wrong at law and principle to include HRDC in the case as friends of the court due to some compelling circumstances.
He said it is important for a party seeking to join a case as friends of the court to enjoy the trust of both the court and the particular proceedings as someone who is objective and impartial. He said the court doubts if HRDC falls into such a category in as far as circumstances of the case are concerned.
Nyirenda said HRDC, without giving the court an analysis of the relevant law and material facts, has taken a position of the Ombudsman as demonstrated in a filed sworn statement.
The judge said: “In view of the foregoing and by reason thereof, the application by the applicant [HRDC] to be admitted as amicus curiae in this case has to fall by the wayside. It is, accordingly, dismissed with costs.”
Besides, the ruling also observed that HRDC did not provide any evidence nor advanced any arguments to support their claim that parties to the case would not take a human rights approach in the matter.
Nyirenda said it is common knowledge that by virtue of holding the position of Ombudsman, the office of the public protector is a member of the Malawi Human Rights Commission, as such, the Ombudsman is in a position to pursue the case from a human rights perspective due to lack of expertise in such an area of the law.
Mera obtained an injunction two weeks ago and it was served on the Ombudsman almost 10 minutes into her presentation of the investigation report titled ‘Curbing Impunity’. The report, which went viral, nullifies the appointment of Kachaje on the basis that it was done irregularly and unprocedurally.