Impunity, “public insecurity, social injustices” in Malawi Disturbing: Bishops’ Commission

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Incidents of impunity, public insecurity affecting deprived members of society as well as failure to address historical injustices in Malawi are some of the matters of concern, which the leadership of one of the Commissions of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) is raising.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, October 27, the leadership of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of ECM says “it is abhorred by the worrying state of lack of respect for the law, public insecurity especially for vulnerable groups and the neglect of long standing and entrenched social injustices in the country.”

“CCJP has observed that there is indifference towards the safeguarding of the sanctity of life, effective protection of the vulnerable groups and observance of the value of the common good,” the Church officials say in their statement signed by the National CCJP Coordinator, Boniface Chibwana.

In the two-page statement dated October 24, CCJP officials bemoan “growing mob violence, degradation of public security, thriving ritual and witchcraft-based violence” in the landlocked Southeastern African nation.

“Continued cases of witchcraft-based violence, defilement of young girls, the soaring numbers of teen pregnancies and child marriages and increased incidents of theft demonstrate systemic defects in the protection systems to safeguard the rights of the elderly and youths as a clear manifestation that duty bearers are not doing enough to protect these vulnerable groups,” they say.


They also find the lack of political will in instituting lasting solutions to curb attacks, killings, abductions and human rights threats to persons with albinism “worrisome.”

“Concrete actions from the Government to combat these vices beyond political rhetoric are missing and this is tantamount to abrogation of State duty to protect its citizens,” CCJP officials say in their statement titled, “Disturbing trends of lawlessness, insecurity and neglect of thriving social injustices in Malawi.”

With concrete actions from the government lacking, they say that “little is being done to address the capacity deficiencies in the criminal justice system so as to adequately counter these elements of criminality.”

“Exhumation of a dead body of a person with albinism in Ntcheu; the horrendous raping of a minor in Chikwawa and the merciless killing of an elderly woman in Dedza based on witchcraft allegations illustrate the frailties in protecting vulnerable people in this country,” they lament.

In the statement, CCJP officials express their concerns about “perceived State orchestrated corruption and insensitivity to underlying social injustices.”

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They note that it is “widely believed” that those in leadership positions as well as their associates are corrupt.

“It is saddening to note that there is a resurgence of corruption espoused or championed by the governing elite and their close associates,” the officials of ECM Commission say and caution, “If this is not checked timely, such malfeasance will flourish unabated for this will be the norm.”

They add in reference to corruption, “Malawians do not want this again as this is a fertile ground for State capture by a few while the majority are mired in poverty.”

They commend the government’s recent move to dispose of existing corruption cases but express their desire to see those perceived to have been corrupt and are aligned to the present political regime “suspended and investigated effectively. No time for selective justice!”

CCJP officials in Malawi are concerned that the longstanding inequalities and social injustices continue to be “treated more through political statements than policy and legal action.”


Such inequalities and injustices include challenges in access to land for the poor; access to loans from public initiatives like National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) and other social protection programs, they highlight.

“The majority poor fail to access land and they have problems benefitting from the highly politicized public loan schemes because of corrupt systems, political patronage, nepotism and rent-seeking behaviors within the Government,” CCJP officials in Malawi say.

They caution that “if not comprehensively checked, the situation can breed mob violence, increased lawlessness, entrenched socio-economic inequalities and deepening mistrust of citizens on their leaders.”

“Government’s window-dressing on these injustices through political rhetorical tones from governing politicians will no longer be tolerated in Malawi of today,” the CCJP officials say.

As a way forward, they say, “Review of relevant laws and policies to address the underlying social injustices is urgently needed.”

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Other recommendations include the need for Malawi Police Service to make sure that there is total security in the country by, among other things, strengthening community protection systems to safeguard the rights of children, the elderly, women, persons with albinism and property of the citizens of this country.

They call on the government to ensure speedy handling of cases involving killings, attacks and abductions of persons with albinism.

CCJP officials in Malawi want law enforcement agencies to expedite the conclusion of cases of rape and defilement of young girls to combat impunity on such crimes.

“We would want tangible outcome in addressing witchcraft-based violence, ritual killings and attacks as well as rape and defilement of young girls,” they say and call on the relevant public institutions to “scale up efforts to raise awareness on the rights of vulnerable groups at the community level.”

Towards eradicating corruption, the CCJP leadership recommends that the country’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) “investigate and prosecute people aligned to the present regime perceived to have committed corrupt acts.”

“The Government should holistically address the land issue problem through participatory law, policy and institutional reforms,” CCJP officials in Malawi say in their statement shared with ACI Africa October 27.