The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) says the January 17 2013 demonstrations represented a right step towards the respect for diversity of opinion and free expression in Malawi.
The commission said this in a news statement on Monday following the successful demonstrations the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) organised in Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre cities.
The statement, signed by the commission’s chairperson Sophie Kalinde, said the demonstrations were not about an individual or a group, but the entrenchment of a culture of respect for human rights in Malawi.
Said the chair: “It must be emphasised that the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi guarantees the right to assemble and hold demonstrations peacefully and unarmed under Section 38. This right must be respected and upheld by all duty-bearers as demanded by Section 15. It is commendable that the 17th January demonstrations were peaceful.”
Kalinde said the commission monitored the demonstration in line with its constitutional mandate of promoting and protecting human rights.
According to the statement, MHRC tracked and documented media reports and conducted on-the-spot monitoring of developments relating to the demonstrations.
Prior to this, MHRC engaged key stakeholders, including police, organisers of the demonstration and concerned civil society groups.
Kalinde hailed the Malawi Police Service “for operating within the ambit of the law, not using excessive force and showing great restraint.”