Malawi: What Offence Have Rights Activists Committed?

Malawi appears to be targeting human rights defenders in the country.

Development Diaries reports that the government has terminated its partnership with Inua Advocacy, an independent civil society organisation (CSO) that advocates for refugee rights in Malawi and beyond.

It is understood that the Malawian Ministry of Homeland Security wrote to Inua Advocacy in November 2023 to terminate its partnership with the group, ordering it to vacate Dzaleka camp.

The group had been providing independent scrutiny of the human rights situation at the camp, which is about 40 kilometres from Lilongwe, the capital.

By driving out a significant refugee rights organisation, the Malawian government is endangering refugee rights at the Dzaleka refugee camp.

According to findings by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Chief Executive Officer of Inua Advocacy, Innocent Magambi, said that the Homeland Security Ministry did not give a reason for ending the partnership.

It is believed that the organisation’s advocacy for human rights violations that refugees and asylum seekers have experienced both during and after the forced relocations to the Dzaleka camp in 2023 is what prompted the government to take action.

The action of the government further draws attention to the human rights situation within the camp.

Human rights abuses in refugee camps in Malawi are a cause for serious concern, shedding light on the challenges faced by displaced individuals seeking safety and shelter.  While Malawi has made efforts to host refugees, there have been reports of various human rights violations within the refugee camps.

In recent times, advocates who speak out on issues such as freedom of expression, political participation, and social justice have found themselves under scrutiny, with some facing legal repercussions for their activism.

Malawian authorities need to stop aiming at people who report violations committed against refugees and who stand up for their rights.

It should be legal for Inua Advocacy and other organisations that seek accountability for the treatment of refugees and respect for human rights to function without fear of deregistration or harassment from the government.

It is crucial to ensure that refugees are treated with dignity, provided with adequate living conditions, and granted the rights and protections guaranteed under international law. Advocacy by rights groups is essential to address the systemic issues and improve the plight of refugees in Malawi.

Development Diaries calls on the government of Malawi to fulfill its international obligations to respect refugee rights, improve their living conditions, and not obstruct the important work of civil society groups defending these rights.

Photo source: Thomas Black57


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