By Duncan Mlanjira
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Titus Mvalo is leading a Malawi delegation to observe the review of Malawi’s human rights record in Geneva to be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) working group on Tuesday, November 3.
This will be the third reveries for Malawi — the first was in November 2010 and the other in May 2015.
At a press briefing two weeks ago, Mvalo said Malawi has been elected into the United Nations Human Rights Council after securing 180 out of 190 votes, saying this new development is justification that the Council is satisfied with the country’s human rights record.
“This is a mark of recognition by the member states of the United Nations and the world as whole that Malawi is on the right track in observance of human rights issues,” Mvalo had said.
Malawi is one of the 14 states to be reviewed by the UPR working group. Three country representatives serving as rapporteurs (troika) for Malawi’s review are Argentina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Marshall Islands in a meeting that will be webcast live from 09.00-12.30 (Geneva time, GMT +1 hour) at at http://webtv.un.org.
According to a statement from UN Malawi’s Development Coordination Officer, Phillip Pemba documents on which the reviews are based are: national report (information provided by the State under review) and information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities.
The third review is on information provided by other stakeholders, including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.
The review will be held in room 19, Palais des Nations, Geneva and due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting will be held using a combination of in-person and remote participation.
The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN member states since its first held in April 2008.
“During the third UPR cycle, States are again expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their previous reviews which they committed to follow-up on, as well as to highlight recent human rights developments in the country.
“The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the recommendations made to Malawi at 16.00 on November 6 and the State under review may wish to express its positions on recommendations posed to it during their review,” says the statement.
During the press briefing two weeks ago, Minister Mvalo said Malawi will benefit and improve a lot from the Council, both at international and local level as it will be responsible for assessing human rights declaration in Malawi and other member countries.
“The assessment of human rights in other countries will help Malawi to improve some areas in human rights as it will be given a chance to sponsor some of the resolutions which will give more space in the operation,” he said.
Adding credence on the new development, Chief State Advocate responsible for Human Rights Section, Pacharo Kaira had said the gap which comes in terms of lack of knowledge on human rights will be decreased as the Council is there to review human rights violations.
“Malawi is expected to be a policy holder of human rights and this can be done if we fully participate as the activeness of our country will elevate Malawi to influence human rights outcomes in the UN system and could be a stepping stone for achieving other political ambitions,” he said.
The review is crucial as Malawi has improved a lot in human rights record through consultations of other bodies which fight for human rights and the Ministry’s Director of Finance and Administration, William Kantayeni in the past Malawi prison cells were 260% above capacity and Government released some of the prisoners to create more space as one of the preventive measure in the spread of COVID-19.
“From the records, we can see that a lot of recommendations have been acted upon — thereby giving no room of doubts in the process of reviewing the 2015-2020 human rights report,” Kantayeni had said at that press briefing.