Government on Wednesday told the United Nations Human Rights Committee that the review of laws that criminalise consensual same sex was stalled due to lack of financial resources.
Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General Janet Banda was formally responding to the committee’s inquiry in the findings of the Law Commission with regard to the review of the Penal Code, in particular sections 137(A), 153, and 156, that criminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity.
Malawi submitted the initial report under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in April 2012 from which the committee compiled a list of issues that needed answers from the State party.
Banda told the committee that although the process to review the laws has stalled because of lack of funds, there was political will to deal with the matter.
Reads the report submitted by Banda: “Malawi has not set up a mechanism to specifically monitor cases of violence based on sexual orientation nor has it set up awareness-raising campaigns on the same. All cases of violence are handled in the same way regardless of the cause or alleged basis of the violence.”
Banda, however, said those involved in same sex acts are not pursued by law enforcers and that a special law commission has not been empanelled to look at the pieces of legislation that criminalise same sex.
On the independence and competence of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), government told the UN that the commission’s operations are guided by principles relating to the status of National Human Rights institutions.
Banda told the committee that the commission is established under the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and is regulated by an Act of Parliament, Human Rights Commission Act, No. 27 of 1998.
She said the funding challenges are there because Malawi is not a rich country. n