Table of Contents
We, the members of the Malawi Human Rights Commission submit this Report pursuant to section 129 of the Constitution as read with sections 12 and 13(e) of the Human Rights Commission Act and commend the Report and its recommendations to the Government, Parliament and the people of Malawi.
Mr. John Kapito - Chairperson of MHRC
Ambassador Mrs. Sophie Kalinde - Commissioner
Mr. Desmond Kaunda - Commissioner
Mrs. Veronica Sembereka - Commissioner
Mr. Marshal Chilenga - Commissioner
Mr. Shenard Mazengera - Commissioner
Mrs. Gertrude Lynn Hiwa - Law Commissioner
............................................. - Commissioner
Justice Mrs. T. Chizumila (Rtd) - Ombudsman
............................................. - Commissioner
ACHPR: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights
AU: African Union
CCAP: Church of Central African Presbyterian
CSO: Civil Society Organisation
CONGOMA: Council for Non-Governmental Organisations
DC: District Commissioner
DPP: Democratic Progressive Party
FBO: Faith Based Organization
FMB: First Merchant Bank
ICESCR: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
ICCPR: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
ICU: Intensive Care Unit
KCH: Kamuzu Central Hospital
MACRA: Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority
MBC: Malawi Broadcasting Corporation
MCP: Malawi Congress Party
MDF: Malawi Defense Force
MHRC: Malawi Human Rights Commission
MIJ: Malawi Institute of Journalism
MK: Malawi Kwacha
MoH: Ministry of Health
MPS: Malawi Police Service
MSB: Malawi Savings Bank
NGO: Non Governmental Organisation
OIBM: Opportunity International Bank of Malawi
OPC: Office of the President and Cabinet
PAC: Public Affairs Committee
PETRA: Peoples Transformation Party
PP: Peoples Party
PPM: Peoples Progressive Movement
UDF: United Democratic Front
UDHR: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
UN: United Nations
QECH: Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital
ZBS: Zodiak Broadcasting Station
The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is an autonomous National Human Rights Institution established by section 129 of the Republic of Malawi Constitution as read with section 12 of the Human Rights Commission Act, Chapter 3:08 of the Laws of Malawi. The mandate of MHRC is to protect and promote human rights in Malawi in the broadest sense possible and to investigate violations of human rights on its own motion or upon complaints received from any person, class of persons or body.
MHRC has observed that there have been disagreements between the Government and Civil Society on various issues. The disagreements have led to a conflict situation. The conflict situation culminated in the violence that ensued from the 20th July 2011 Demonstration. The conflict seems to be ongoing with further demonstrations planned for 17th August 2011. It is imperative that various stakeholders should engage in processes for resolution of the conflict using lawful means. The Constitution of Malawi in section 13(l) obliges the State to actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the goal of peaceful settlement of disputes through putting in place mechanisms by which differences are settled through negotiations, good offices, mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
In view of the above, MHRC convened a special Commissioners meeting to discuss prevailing human rights issues following the 20th July demonstrations. Commissioners resolved to undertake comprehensive investigations into the events surrounding the 20th July demonstrations and the violence that ensued pursuant to its mandate of promotion and protection of human rights and investigation of violations of human rights.
This Report covers the preliminary findings and recommendations of MHRC in the course of its investigations. In circulating widely the information contained in this Report to all stakeholders, MHRC is invoking its promotion and protection mandate by ensuring that all stakeholders are adequately informed before taking any further actions. This would in turn ensure the prevention of further violations of human rights in whatever form and by any persons.
The Report also takes stock of the events surrounding the demonstrations with a view to drawing lessons that should inform further actions by stakeholders. Further, MHRC envisages that the information would facilitate access to effective remedies by affected parties, promote conflict resolution, peace building and dialogue in resolving issues of common concern to all people in Malawi.
This preliminary Report covers the events prior to, during and after the 20th July, 2011 demonstrations. MHRC deployed staff, led by Commissioners, on the ground to investigate and document the demonstration-related violence. This promoted the process of gathering information directly from victims of human rights violations, eyewitnesses and others. Therefore, much of the information contained in this Report is based on information received from MHRC stakeholders, human rights defenders, human rights organizations, civil society organizations, media sources and other individuals, including a large number of victims of human rights violations and eyewitnesses.
The public response to the call by MHRC for information was positive leading to a significant amount of information that will form the basis of a final comprehensive report. However, the information gathered so far has some gaps that require further work. Despite these gaps and further investigations to be done, MHRC notes that the events relating to the demonstration raise a serious human rights situation in Malawi.
The evident breaches of fundamental rights and freedoms in the period under consideration on such a large scale require thorough investigations and, with respect to the perpetrators, full accountability. For these reasons, MHRC will in addition to this preliminary Report, continue with its investigations. Thus MHRC emphasises its call and plea to the Government of Malawi to grant the necessary support and access required for MHRC’s team of investigators to effectively accomplish this important exercise. MHRC intends to provide a more extensive assessment of the human rights situation in Malawi in light of the demonstration-related events in the final comprehensive report.
2.0 Preliminary Findings and Analysis
The ensuing paragraphs outline the key findings of MHRC’s fact finding exercise into the events surrounding the 20th July Demonstrations. The findings pertain to the period before, during and after the Demonstrations.
2.1 The Pre-Demonstrations Period: A Brief Situation Analysis
2.1.1 In order to put the findings and analysis of the events surrounding the 20th July demonstrations and the violence that ensued into a proper perspective, an outline of the background to the period is necessary.
2.1.2 The ensuing paragraphs detail this background which is derived from the Petition that the CSOs presented to authorities on 20th July 2011. The issues were compiled in a petition that CSOs earlier produced and submitted to authorities. The continued existence of the issues variously raised by the CSOs ultimately progressed into the economic, social and political factors that are contributing factors to the 20th July demonstrations and the violence that followed.
2.1.3 The key issues include:
The acute foreign exchange shortage;
The acute fuel shortage;
Lack of economic prudence;
Corruption and abuse of power;
Disrespect of the rule of law
Deliberate efforts to avoid or interrupt the holding of Local Government Elections
The University of Malawi crisis (failure to resolve the current stalemate between the University Council and its two constituent Colleges) and
Political intolerance and violence
2.1.5 Much as the issues are non-violent, they have negative implications for human rights, human security and development, are structural and embedded in socio-economic, legal and political sectors and are a manifestation of poor economic and democratic governance.
2.1.6 In light of these issues, the CSOs made the following demands as recommendations
.Sell the Presidential jet and minimise all foreign trips by the Head of State;
.Ban all importation of luxury cars (M/benz, Limousines, and Luxurious 4x4s). Any new cars for the President, Ministers or State Officials must reflect our impoverished state and should thus not be as ostentatious as in the past;
.All foreign trips by Ministers and State officials must be severely curtailed forthwith;
.Superfluous costs such as the new 'eavesdropping' machine being installed at a cost of US$6 million at MACRA merely to assuage creeping paranoia in an unconstitutional manner must be discontinued and reversed forthwith;
Zimbabwe must immediately repay the US$20 million that has long been outstanding for food supplied by Malawi. The payment can be made in cash or in fuel;
.Scrutinise all fertiliser imports for the previous year to track the fairness of the pricing – all those who have inflated their costings must be brought to book and penalised for the full amount of overpricing as well as harsh penalties for committing the crime.
.Scrutinise all fuel imports for overpricing practices and bring the perpetrators to book. All forex gained through such malpractices must be returned to Malawi immediately;
Massive fuel importers such as Paladin (usage: 3,000 litres diesel per day) must use their own forex reserves to bring in their fuel and should not drain Malawi's scarce reserves;
.Allow independent importation of fuel by any entrepreneur who has the means – this will break the stranglehold monopoly of PIL and open the market for free competition;
.Paladin's exports of 'yellow cake' must be checked to ensure that a fair market price is being charged and the proceeds are being brought back to Malawi without any transfer pricing;
.Gemstone exports must be monitored closely by trained experts to ensure that fair values are being declared. Malawi may have been short changed for decades in this area due to lack of capaCity and negligence;
It may be necessary, in the short term, to listen to the IMF and devalue our currency in order to gain their approval which would then open the doors for other Donors to come in and pump much needed forex into our flagging economy. The inflationary aspects of this can be countered by other anti inflationary measures.
It is essential to immediately mend fences with our long term development partners, the British Government by apologising for the diplomatic faux pas and making amends. Their contribution to our economy is too significant to shrug off with cavalier disdain – especially when it means that the poorest sections of society will be worst afflicted by the suspension of British aid.
The bloated Cabinet must be trimmed to 14 members and their allowances of fuel and air time adjusted to reasonable levels with immediate effect;
2.1.7 The CSOs proposed the time frame for the implementation of the recommendations as follows
Within reasonable time adopt measures and actions so that there is availability of and access to forex.
Within reasonable time adopt special measures to avail adequate forex to Petroleum Importers Limited and other suppliers so that they are able to import fuel without interruption.
Within reasonable time the ESCOM board and top management should be replaced with independent experts who, within 3 months, must demonstrate that the acute electriCity shortages have begun to reverse.
In addition, form a consultative forum which solicits input from all stakeholders who may have valuable information, ideas and new concepts with which to tackle the issues of capaCity and cost of power generation;
Within reasonable time the Anti corruption Bureau should commence an investigation of all people implicated in the recent Malawi Housing house sale scandal.
The Anti Corruption Bureau should start investigating ALL Cabinet Ministers and public servants on the unexplained wealth that some seem to have accumulated whilst holding office. The Penal Code calls upon all citizens to explain the source of their wealth, All moneys stolen should be returned.
Within 1 month; The President should fully declare his assets, explaining sources of funds to acquire and develop Ndata farm.
The First Lady's contract should be nullified and all earnings refunded back to Government.
The Law Commission should set up a special law commission to revisit the Penal Code and the Injunctions Bill, which should lead to submission of recommendations within reasonable time.
The President should demonstrate good faith towards the Office of the Vice President, starting by returning her official motorcade.
The Government should commit to hold Local Government Elections and not in 2014 as announced.
The University Council should immediately reinstate the four lecturers dismissed during the academic freedom stalemate, and issue a statement committing that no spies will be allowed in lecture rooms.
Issue a circular nullifying the instruction to require a deposit of MK 2, 000,000 for mass demonstrations.
Immediately stop unfair usage of MBCTV public broadcaster and television to castigate and threaten those with dissenting views.
Immediately stop of disregarding of court orders by the Executive arm of Government
Immediately provide drugs in all hospitals and clinics as lack of drugs is frustrating health/care workers and patients.
Immediately look at addressing health human resource for Nurses.
Immediately address incentives of Nurses as of 300 have not been paid their allowances for 3 years now.
To consider living wage as opposed to minimum wage and living wage raised to MK25, 000 a month.
We demand decent jobs and conditions for all workers
We demand social protection system for the good of welfare of Malawians
2.1.8 The Government’s failure to correct or to be seen as earnestly attending to these issues contributed to increasing levels of disgruntlement in the citizenry.
In some cases, the Government actually issued out statements that made it to appear to have taken defensive or safe-saving stances leading to a buildup of discontentment on the part of the Malawi populace. For instance, in a national address that the President made relating to some of these concerns, he virtually absolved the Government of any responsibility and pushed blame for the various issues of concern such as the fuel shortages, scarcity of forex, and calls for the devaluation of Kwacha on other players such as fuel haulage companies, Commercial Banks, Forex Bureaus, the IMF among others.
2.1.9 The period before the demonstrations was also characterised by a lack of, or limitations of, space for open, constructive and objective dialogue between the Government and other players, the Civil Society Organisations being the major grouping, to constructively discuss issues of national importance. This fueled the situation forcing the CSO to plan for a nation-wide demonstration to force Government to positively respond to the national concerns. The situation culminated in the CSOs resorting to mobilizing people to stage mass demonstrations on the issues of concern. By 8th July 2011 as indicated by the Nation Newspaper, these plans by the CSOs had reached an advanced stage.
2.1.10 The CSOs formed organising Committees which held meetings in Lilongwe, Zomba, Blantyre, Mzuzu, Karonga and other districts. In Lilongwe, the Malawi Police Service, City and district assemblies did not attend the meetings despite the notice being sent to them until 19th July, 2011 when members of CSOs were called by the District Commissioner of Lilongwe District for a meeting which started at around 14:00 pm. In Blantyre and Mzuzu, Zomba, and Karonga, the organizers had a good relationship and dialogue with the Police prior to the 20th July 2011 and the Police managed to attend the meetings organized by the CSO assuring maximum protection on the day. For Zomba, the cordial relationship between the demonstrations’ organisers and the Police contributed to a good management of the demonstrations by the police which averted any violent incidences.
2.1.11 In the course of the mobilisation of the masses by the CSOs to participate in the demonstrations and indications from the media that relevant Government authorities were non-committal on authorizing the demonstrations, MHRC issued a Press Statement relating to the developments. MHRC’s statement clarified the nature and scope of the right to hold peaceful demonstrations and other related rights as guaranteed in the Constitution of Malawi and relevant international human rights instruments. Further MHRC clarified on the obligations and responsibilities of Government and its agencies, the organisers of demonstrations and the public at large on the right to hold peaceful demonstrations. MHRC therefore called on the Government to guarantee the exercise of this right and the organisers and the people of Malawi to have regard to the attendant responsibilities at all times.
2.1.12 In the progression of the plans by the CSOs for the demonstrations other players made public pronouncements of their support for the idea of the demonstrations or indications that they would actually participate in the demonstrations. For instance, the Vice President, opposition leaders such as John Z. Tembo of MCP, Kamuzu Chibambo of PETRA, and Mark Katsonga of PPM made indications that they would join the demonstrations. On its part the DPP members disseminated information that discredited the organisers of the demonstration. On the 19th of July 2011, a day before the demonstrations, DPP vehicles paraded people wielding pangas and knives in the City of Blantyre chanting anti-demonstration songs. In the ensuing chaos, a journalist who witnessed the event was hacked on the head.
2.1.13 The pre-demonstration period was also characterised by an intensified monopolization of MBC TV, the public broadcaster which has nation-wide coverage by Government and the DPP. In this regard, MBC TV variously aired information that amounted to propaganda and demonization of the planned demonstrations and labeling it as a Gay Rights campaign, which was a clear misinformation to the general public. In a related development, the public broadcaster variously featured traditional chiefs who propagated messages against the demonstrations planned for the 20th July 2011. However, the Broadcaster did not at any occasion air, or feature people that were in support of the CSO-led demonstrations.
2.1.14 Furthermore, the period was also characterised by heightened hostility towards some private broadcasters such as ZBS which had one vehicle damaged and another torched down by unidentified persons.
2.1.15 The actions of the President as well as some Government and DPP figures prior to the demonstrations also compounded the ready volatile situation. For example on one occasion, the President indicated that he would meet the CSO demonstrators on the streets. Furthermore, the President’s making of a public lecture on the day of the demonstration also exacerbated the situation. The lecture was scheduled in a manner that made it to coincide with the day that had long before been earmarked for the demonstration, when evidently the lecture could have been scheduled for a different date. This could have been a bid to divert people’s attention from the demonstrations or dissuade people from participating in the demonstrations. The Governments’ acquiescence to the moves of the DPP Young Cadets that drove through the City of Blantyre in the ruling DPP’s vehicles blandishing panga knives and other arms in the presence of the Police and on the eve of the planned peaceful demonstrations also heightened the volatility of the situation.
2.1.16 The acceptance on the part of authorities for a counter demonstration on the same day that the CSOs planned demonstration was to be held, also worsened the situation. Through a press statement, the organisers of the counter demonstrations indicated that the grouping would demonstrate on the same route as proposed by the CSOs. The relevant authorities ought to have taken a pro-active role and clarified the law on point to the grouping and the general public that the proposal for the second demonstration was not tenable, and that in the event of a crash, the earlier group to give notice takes precedence.
2.1.17 Events close to the 20th July also show inordinate delays on the part of the relevant authority in authorizing the planned 20th July demonstrations. Interview with the District Commissioner of Lilongwe, Mr. Paul Kalilombe indicated there was confusion as to where the notice for demonstrations by the Civil Society Organisations would be delivered. At first it was delivered to the Chief Executive of Lilongwe City Assembly, but was later on delivered to the DC on the following day. Upon receiving the notice, the DC called for a meeting with all concerned parties like the CSO, the police and the Chief Executive of the City Assembly to map the way forward. As events unfolded, it was evident that no authority clearly came out to play their rightful roles in response to the CSOs notice to hold demonstrations. On 19th July 2011 the Police was quoted in an article in the Daily Times assuring people that they would provide maximum security to the demonstrators. However, this did not get close to an express authority to the CSOs to go ahead with the demonstration, which according to law, should have come from the District Commissioner in consultation with other concerned authorities (the police, the conveners of the demonstrations). This resulted in confusion and uncertainty; a recipe for the chaos that followed. This could have been averted if authorisation was clearly given in good time, creating for certainty and ample room for the preparedness of relevant players to effectively respond to the demonstrations.
2.1.18 The eventual obtaining of injunctions stopping both the planned demonstrations and the counter demonstrations, on the eve of the demonstrations, by concerned citizens: Mr. Chiza Mbekeani, through lawyer Mathews Chidzonde obtained before Justice Chifundo Kachale; and Mr. James Willie and Mr. Rodrick Makapu through Lawyers Denning Chambers, before Justice Potani in Lilongwe and Blantyre respectively, worsened the already volatile situation. Reportedly, as indicated by Mr. Mbekeani in an interview with ZBS, on July 31, 2011 he had conceived the idea to stop the demonstrations long before the 20th July, and his motive to obtain the injunction was based on good faith, i.e. to protect property, children, women, the disabled, the elderly and businesses owned by both Government and private individuals.
2.1.19 The period that followed the court’s restraint of the demonstrations was filled with tension, uncertainty, and increased disgruntlement. Furthermore, in some areas, the police compounded the situation by pre-maturely resorting to employing force e.g. firing of teargas and beating people, in order to disperse people that had gathered to demonstrate but was instructed by the demonstration organisers not to commence the marching until the injunctions had been vacated. This led to commotion and chaos. In some instances, the CSOs leaders did not have a presence in the areas where people had gathered to demonstrate, e.g. at the Lilongwe Community Ground. This was due to the strategy by the organisers to initially convene at Lilongwe CCAP premises in order to strategise the march. In Blantyre, the leaders had been disrupted by the Police, with whom they were discussing the injunction and its implications. These scenarios resulted in leadership gaps which left the crowd without guidance.
2.1.20 The totality of this situation: the uncertainty and anger created by the injunctions; the absence of decisive leadership and guidance; the premature use of force by the police; created a hostile atmosphere and precipitated the violence that ensued. In the alternative, the Police could have used other measures other than force for containing the crowd that was unarmed and relatively calm. This approach was actually adopted in Zomba and evidently resulted in a different situation, whereby the demonstrations took place without incidents of violence.
2.2 Events during and Post the Demonstration
The ensuing paragraphs outline the events that took place in the course of the demonstrations on 20th July 2011 and in the aftermath of the demonstrations. MHRC focused its investigations in the districts where the demonstrations were reported to have taken place. The findings from these Districts are presented in the ensuing sections. MHRC obtained relevant supporting documents on the information relating to reports on deaths and people that were treated in hospitals discussed in the tables below.
Church and Society of the Livingstonia Synod was coordinating the demonstrations in Mzuzu;
On the 20th of July, the demonstrators gathered at Katoto Freedom Park to start the marching to present a petition to Mzuzu Chief Executive Officer. Some police officers were present to ensure security and order;
On the robots at the junction to Karonga road, they were met with the some police officers who informed that an injunction had been obtained that stopped the demonstrations and the demonstrators were advised to disperse;
This angered the demonstrators which resulted in running battles with the police;
Some of the demonstrators went on rampage, looting and vandalizing property. Three DPP vehicles were set alight; two houses were set alight, one belonging to Hon. Vuwa Kaunda and being used as Mzuzu DPP office and one belonging to Mr. Philbert Ngoma, an employee of Airtel Malawi; Shops and Malawi Savings Bank were also targeted in Mzuzu;
On 20th July, nine people died as a result of the violence; eight died as a result of gunshot wounds, while one died of suffocation from tear gas.
The CSOs in Mzuzu made arrangements to bury the dead at Mzuzu Heroes Acre. However, Government objected to the idea, and the dead were buried in a mass grave in Zolozolo Township.
Below is the identities of the people that died and causes of deaths as provided by the Ministry of Health
Persons who died to Mzuzu Central Hospital
1 Chimwemwe Ngwira 21 Male Died either of Asphyxia due to teargas or Hypoxia due to cardiologic shock or Hypoxia due to respiratory distress. Mzimba
2 King Msuku 43 Male Died of severe haemorrhage due to possibly gunshot and penetrating deep wounds on the chest. Nkhata bay
3 Adam Banda 35 Male Died of severe haemorrhage due to gunshot; deep penetrating wound on left neck and upper jaw. Lilongwe
4 Charles Chibambo 33 Male Died of severe haemorrhage due to gunshot; deep penetrating wound on mid thoracic region; one entry wound. Mzimba
5 Abel Kanyenda 19 Male Died of ruptured viscera, spleen and stomach due to gunshot. Radial pellets on the chest x-ray compatible with bullets. Mzuzu
6 Jacob Nyangali 25 Male Died of severe haemorrhage due to gunshot; deep penetrating wounds on thoracic region. Mzimba
7 Julius Kaunda 55 Male Died of head injuries possibly due to gunshot; penetrating deep wounds on direct left ear and skull; bleeding from ears and nostrils. Mzimba
8 Aaron Chilenje 30 Male Died of severe bleeding due to gunshot; open fracture on left femur; massive tissue destruction on left thigh. Mzimba
9 Samson Ngulube 23 Male Died of ruptured viscera-Liver with severe haemorrhage due to gunshot. Mzimba
Mzuzu hospital also registered 21 casualties (17 were males and 4 were females). The table below show the identities, diagnosis and status of the people that were treated at the hospital:
Victims taken to Mzuzu Central Hospital alive
1 Robert Kuwali 34 Male Gunshot Operated on Nkhata bay
2 Timeyo Juwa 26 Male Gunshot Operated on Mzimba
3 Marko Simkonda 13 Male Gunshot Operated Chitipa
4 Alfred Ngulube 15 Male Gunshot Operated on and right leg amputated -
5 Wongani Kasambala 22 Male Gunshot Wound treated and discharged Mzimba
6 Aaron Chitenje Not known Male Gunshot Died after operation Not known
7 Elia Munthali 15 Male Gunshot Wound treated and discharged Karonga
8 Mary Kasale 14 Female Gunshot Bullet retrieved Mulanje
9 Mphatso Gondwe 13 Female Gunshot Wound Karonga
10 Golden Kalua 38 Male Gunshot Operated on Not known
11 Andrew Nyasulu 17 Male Gunshot Wound on the right shoulder Mzimba
12 Winstone Mpuluka 26 Male Right hand cut Wound and tendon repair Chiradzulu
13 Mary Wilson 13 Female Fracture sustained while running Back slab Mangochi
14 Abel Kanyenda 25 Male Gunshot Died after operation Mzimba
15 Esther Phiri 21 Female Gunshot Wound debridement Karonga
16 James Phiri 27 Male Gunshot Bullet removed Unknown
17 Steven Soko 29 Male Gunshot Wound Mzimba
18 Chaofu Mwandemange 31 Male Gunshot Operated on Mzuzu
19 Samson Ngulube 43 Male Gunshot Died after operation Mzimba
20 Alex Jabili 25 Male Gunshot Operated on Mangochi
21 Chiza Mwanganya 35 Male Swollen elbow due to trauma X-ray and treated Mzuzu
Demonstrators gathered at Lilongwe Community Centre;
Before the start of the demonstrations, the police informed the CSO leaders that an injunction had been obtained stopping the demonstrations;
The CSO convened at Lilongwe CCAP church strategizing while waiting for their lawyer, Mr. Wapona Kita, who was working on having the injunction vacated. Some journalists and politicians were also there;
When the demonstrators were informed of the injunction by Mr. Mkwezalamba, one of the organizers of the demonstrations, they were angered and started chanting songs of discontent;
The police fired teargas and guns to disperse the crowd;
The crowd went on rampage, looting and destroying property;
Running battles between the police and the people ensued in town and townships of Kawale, Areas 23 and 22 (near Works Training Centre).
The MDF joined to reinforce the MPS capaCity to provide security and order.
Below is the list of some of the properties that were looted and vandalized:
1 Chipiku Stores Shop Chipiku Stores looted Lilongwe
2 First Merchant Bank (FMB) Bank Vandalised Lilongwe
3 Opportunity International Bank of Malawi (OIBM) Bank Vandalised Lilongwe
4 Kulima Gold Agricultural company Looting Lilongwe
5 Peoples Trading Shop Supermarket Looted and set alight Lilongwe
6 Lilongwe Auctioneers and Estate Agents Auction and estate agents Looted and set alight Lilongwe
7 Pakeezah Investiments Company Retail shop Looted Lilongwe
8 Mulli Brothers Pharmaceutical Company Warehouse looted Lilongwe
9 Police houses Residential houses Set alight Lilongwe
The police invaded the CCAP Church where the CSO, some journalists and politicians were hiding. The police, led by a Mr. Chirambo, beat up some CSO leaders (Undule Mwakasungula, Billy Mayaya, Peter Chinoko, Benedicto Kondowe and Rogers Newa); journalists (Kondwani Munthali, Amos Gumulira, Isaac Kambwiri, Rabecca Chimjeka, Yvonne Sundu, Emmanuel Chibwana); and politician Nancy Tembo, and other people including Jean Msosa and Anjimile Mtila Oponyo despite being shown and told that the injunction had been vacated;
Violence and looting continued on 21st July 2011, a day after the planned demonstrations. This was evident in Kawale, Area 25, Lumbadzi, Mponela and Chinsapo where Peoples Trading Shop, Bata Shoe Company and Chipiku Stores and a police unit were targeted;
The violence on 20th and 21st July resulted into 7 deaths in Lilongwe as recorded at Kamuzu Central Hospital. One person (Elida Kampira) died on the 20th July while the rest were deposited to the mortuary on the 21st July.
In Lilongwe the District Commissioner received a directive from the Office of President and Cabinet to arrange coffins, transport and K30, 000 for funeral arrangements for those who identified the dead bodies of their relatives.
Below is the list of the persons that died and the causes of their deaths.
Victims brought dead to Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe
1 George Thekere 21 Male Died of severe head injury due to gunshot Chiradzulu
2 Lovemore Navira 19 Male Died of haemorrhaegic shock due to gunshot Thyolo
3 Luka Ignasiyo 38 Male Died of haemorrhagic shock following gunshot; crush fractures to the bilateral femur; severed genetalia. Dedza
4 Michael Ayami 36 Male Died of haemorrhagic shock following gunshot injuries Mangochi
5 Elida Kampira 24 Female Died of gunshot Lilongwe
6 Edward Phiri 24 Male Died of gunshot on the fore head Ntchisi
7 Unidentified Male
Demonstrators gathered at Victoria Hall led by CSO leaders with the police around to ensure that there was security and order;
When news of the injunction reached the police, they decided to stop the people from demonstrating. The people waited for the process of vacating the injunction before marching;
Various radio stations (Capital FM, MIJ Radio and Joy Radio) in Blantyre were airing a live coverage of the events as they unfolded. In the course of the coverage, the Radio Stations were contacted by MACRA to stop airing the live coverage. The stations were deemed by MACRA to be contravening the Communications Act as they were perceived to be airing information that was tantamount to inciting violence. MACRA followed up on its warning by shutting down the radio stations for a period of close to four hours. Other radio stations e.g. ZBS were also warned to stop airing the live coverage on the demonstrations.
When the injunction was vacated, the demonstrations started. However, there was another group of people that did not follow the prescribed route. They started looting and vandalizing property;
Running battles between the looters and the police ensued. The looting and vandalism resulted in the destruction of property. Chipiku Store in Zingwangwa, First Merchant Bank, NBS Bank and International Commercial Bank were targeted;
Queen Elizabeth Hospital registered 2 deaths and 11 injuries as a result of the violence that ensued. The 2 deaths occurred on 20th July 2011.
Below is the list of the identities of the dead and injured persons and causes of death and injuries respectively:
Victims brought to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital
1 Joseph Lingimani Gunshot 25 Ndirande Brought dead
2 John Mora Gunshot 13 Ndirande Brought dead
3 Philip Mkutu Deep cut 26 Chemusa Out-patient
4 Francis Songweje Cut 22 Chimwankhunda Out-patient
5 Evance Mtethe Multiple bruises 51 Nkhumbe Out-patient
6 Dean Zulu Gunshot 42 Mbayani Out-patient
7 Imani Zabula Gunshot 15 Chirimba ICU
8 Mphatso Mphoka Gunshot 25 Chirimba ICU
9 Griven Medi Gunshot 37 Chirimba 5A
10 Tenson Luhanga Gunshot 15 Chirimba 5A
11 Lackmore Misi Gunshot 18 Chirimba 5A
12 Chancy Chibaka Gunshot 24 Chilomoni 5A
13 Madalitso Seyani Gunshot 16 Chilomoni 5A
Demonstrators gathered in readiness to march but were stopped because of the injunction that stopped the demonstrations. After the injunction was vacated, the demonstrators marched peacefully and delivered the petition to the DC with police escort;
Some Chancellor College students were arrested when they were found looting and vandalizing some property.
During the demonstrations and the violence that ensued on the 20th and 21st, the police arrested 259 suspects. MHRC assisted in releasing 67 of the suspects in Mzuzu.
The demonstrations in Karonga were coordinated by Karonga Youth Development CBO which had a series of meetings with the police in preparation for peaceful demonstrations;
Before the start of the demonstrations, there was communication that an injunction had been obtained to stop the demonstrations. As a result, the demonstrators were advised to wait for court proceedings that were working on vacating this injunction;
When the injunction was vacated, the demonstrators marched peacefully to the office of the DC to present the petition;
After delivering the petition, the people assembled for speeches and some people started to leave the venue while the leaders were still addressing them.
When the people were going back from the DC to their respective homes, violence broke out because some people started to loot and vandalise property;
• Below is the list of the property that was destroyed:
1 Sub/Chief Kalonga Chief Personal vehicle burnt Karonga
2 Ministry of Water Development and Irrigation Ministry MG vehicle burnt Karonga
3 Mr. Chaponda Employee of Ministry of Water Development and Irrigation Personal vehicle burnt Karonga
4 Chipiku Stores - Chipiku building burnt Karonga
5 Bata shoe company - Bata shop looted Karonga
6 Pep store - Pep store looted Karonga
7 Greenwitch - Greenwitch house destroyed Karonga
8 Total Filling Station - Filing Station destroyed Karonga
9 Simama buildings Businessmen (Chinese stores) Shops looted Karonga
10 Mphasa shop Airtime seller Shop destroyed Karonga
The police used teargas and live bullets to bring order;
• The police arrested 36 suspects, 8 women and 28 men as perpetrators of the violence;
• One person, Mavuto Banda was shot dead by the police on the 20th of July. The postmortem report indicated that he had open wounds on the left upper lobe of the lungs and upper aspects of the liver. Gun bullet was found buried in the chest muscles;
• Three other persons were also injured by the shooting. These are: Kondwani Jere, a guard at MRA who was shot on the upper knee area. He was shot around the Chitipa-Karonga-Mzuzu roundabout; Ella and Bertha Ndileke who were shot at their home around 19.20 hours when they were about to retire to bed; Ella was shot on the foot while Bertha was shot on the calf muscles of the right leg.
• Below is the list of casualties in Karonga.
Victims of July 20, 2011 registered at Karonga District Hospital
1 Madalitso Mponda 17 Male Shot on the left hand Karonga
2 Chancy Mwanyongo 22 Male Shot on the left femur Karonga
3 Michael Mwambila 26 Male Shot on the left proximal arm Karonga
4 Kondwani Jere 34 Male Shot on the left thigh Karonga
5 Winfred Ngosi 18 Male Shot on the right femur and thigh Karonga
6 Owen Sichali 17 Male Shot on the cheek Karonga
7 Ella Ndileke 18 Female Shot on the left foot Karonga
8 Bertha Ndileke 19 Female Shot on the calf of the right leg Karonga
2.3 Developments in the Aftermath of the Demonstrations
2.3.1 There were continued incidences of violence characterized by shooting, looting arrests and beatings. These incidences of violence are what resulted into numerous deaths and injuries as reported above. This signifies police’ failure to effectively respond to the situation, particularly since the previous day (20th July) had already registered spates of violence, which should have put the police on high alert.
2.3.2 In separate public statements, the President initially registered regret for the loss of life and damage to property that emanated from the events surrounding the demonstrations. In a later statement, while presiding over the graduation of Police recruits the President expressed his cynicism particularly questioning if fuel or forex was now available in Malawi following the demonstrations. On another occasion, the President blamed the leaders of the CSOs and opposition politicians for the violence that ensued during and after the demonstrations. Yet in another statement, the President expressed his readiness to meet the CSOs for dialogue on issues raised. On other occasions the President also stated that he would hunt for those that were responsible for the demonstrations “smoke them out”. He further indicated that those whose property was destroyed had to sue the organizers of the demonstration. Furthermore, Government through the Police issued statements to the effect that the police did not use live bullets on the day of the demonstrations, the 20th but on the 21st as on this day people were engaged in criminal activities.
2.3.3 A number of FBOs such as Catholic Bishops issued out statements calling the State President to listen to people’s cries and genuinely respond to them. In addition a New York based international media body (Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ)) and MISA issued out a statement condemning the banning of radio stations from broadcasting live the demonstrations and described the action as superfluous, unconstitutional and retrogressive as it take away the right of people to access information.
2.3.4 Some NGOs and opposition UDF warned the President of more protest if the Civil Society and political leaders are arrested. PAC also said that the President’s remarks fell short of people’s expectations as they contradicted his earlier call in the national address for contact and dialogue. PAC indicated that naming of people who should be arrested and his appeal to the Judiciary “to deal with the matter fairly” are unacceptable and amount to influencing law-enforcing agents.
2..3.5 On 31st July, Sunday Nation reported that the petition by organizers of the July 20 demonstrations to President Bingu wa Mutharika was yet to reach the Head of State. Several Government officials including Information Minister, indicated that Hon. Symon Vuwa Kaunda and Presidential spokesperson, Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba were not aware if the petition had reach the President.
2.3.6 The First Lady, Madam Callista Mutharika made comments on 2nd August 2011 when she officially opened Matuli Health Centre in Mzimba that the NGOs were fighting for petty issues such as good governance, fuel shortage and minority rights. She accused NGOs of soliciting money from donors to stir unrest and disturb peace in the country. She also indicated that 85% of Malawians live in the villages and do not need fuel for vehicles and forex to travel abroad. She told the crowd that what they need is subsidized fertilizer to have more maize to eat not go to the streets to fight for little issues.
3.1 The investigations by MHRC have so far shown that gross human rights violations took place before, during and after the 20th July Demonstrations. MHRC notes with concern the death of 19 people and the destruction of property on 20th July and thereafter. MHRC condemns the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators and urges the Malawi Government to protect civilians and respect fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression and assembly. MHRC condemns the looting and the destruction of property that ensued from the demonstrations.
3.2 MHRC finds that the following human rights were violated in the violence that emanated from the demonstrations: the right to life (not to be arbitrarily deprived of life); the right to personal liberty; the right to human dignity; the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to freedom and security of the person; the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of property; the right to freely engage in economic activity, to work and pursue a livelihood anywhere in Malawi; the right to freedom of expression; the right to right to report and publish freely within Malawi and abroad (freedom of the press); the right of access to information and the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed.
These human rights are guaranteed by the Republic of Malawi Constitution in sections: 16; 18; 19(1); 19(3); 19(6); 28; 29; 35; 36; 37; and 38 respectively. These human rights are also provided in a number of international human rights instruments that Malawi has ratified such as: the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Convention against Torture, Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The human rights are also embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Malawi subscribes and is part of the Laws of Malawi.
3.3 MHRC affirms that the people in Malawi have the right to hold demonstrations peacefully and unarmed. The state is the primary duty bearer to ensure that this right is effectively realized. To this end, the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi in section 153 and the Police Act Chapter 13:01 of the Laws of Malawi in section 4 obligates the Police to preserve law and order and to protect life, property, fundamental freedoms and rights of individuals, and to protect public safety. Clearly, the events surrounding the 20th July Demonstration indicate that the Police did not effectively perform this role. For the most part, the manner in which the Police managed the Demonstrations of the 20th July failed to meet the threshold set out in part 9 of the Police Act. The police disproportionately used firearms in quelling the situations that emanated from the demonstrations. This contravened the provisions of the Police Act (sections 44 and 105(5) and relevant constitutional provisions and international human rights standards.
4 MHRC further observes that the eruption of the violence was precipitated by a number of structural causes, including the roles of public institutions e.g. MACRA, MBC TV and the Police. For example, the state broadcaster contributed to a worsening situation through biased reporting of events that surrounded the demonstration and broadcasting of propaganda.
3.5 Further, while the violence on the 20th July was for the most part sporadic the incidences of violence that followed on the 21st July took a structured pattern, for example the characteristics of the places on which the violence was targeted, e.g. Police officers houses and businesses deemed to belong to DPP supporters or sympathizers.
3.6 The findings also bring out the issue of leadership gaps on the part of the organisers in directing the people that had gathered to participate in the demonstration. To a large extent this arose from instances where the police intervention led to their protracted engagement with the leaders. In turn, the people were left without leadership
3.7 The injunctions that were obtained on the eve of the day earmarked for the demonstration was the ultimate trigger of the injunctions.
3.8 In the final analysis, the developments surrounding the demonstrations bring to the fore issues of a lack of common values between the rulers and the ruled. The events also signify a failure of a system for the peaceful resolution of differences that is envisaged in the Constitution in section 13(l). This makes it imperative for the events surrounding the 20th July demonstrations and the ensuing violence to be carefully examined, with a view to drawing lessons that should inform future actions.
In view of the findings in this preliminary report, MHRC makes the following recommendations:
4.1 The State President and Government
i. MHRC takes cognizance of the fact that Malawi is a State party to the core international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Further that Malawi has a Bill of human rights entrenched in the Constitution. Thus, MHRC calls upon the Malawi Government to ensure that human rights, in particular, the rights to life, liberty and security of person, human dignity and freedom from cruel, degrading treatment or punishment are protected in all circumstances, including in the context of efforts to maintain law and order.
ii. The Government should ensure that the people that were affected by the violence that ensued during and after the demonstrations, including subjection to human rights violations access effective remedies.
iii. Government should facilitate the conduct of credible and impartial investigations and prosecution of those found responsible for the killing of people, looting and destruction of property during and after the demonstrations. In particular, the Government should cooperate fully with and grant every access to personnel from MHRC to conduct further investigations into the 20th July Demonstrations related violence.
iv. It is imperative that the Government as obliged under section 13(l) of the Constitution should adopt mechanisms for peaceful settlements of disputes. To this end, the President and Government should provide and maintain channels for contact and dialogue. In this regard, a culture of tolerance should be inculcated in the Government machinery to avert situations where people have to resort to demonstrations to communicate contrary views. Evidently, where demonstrations turn violent, the consequences are far-reaching and development is derailed. The President should arise above party politics and effectively address issues of national interest. The President and Government should desist from making provocative remarks that may fuel further violence and instead work towards reconciliation of differences.
v. The President and the Government should acknowledge and objectively and meaningfully address the state of affairs raised in the petition as issues of concern to the people in Malawi. In this regard, the President and Government should be guided by the Constitutional principles set out in Section 12 (a), (b) and (c) of the Constitution as follows:
(a) all legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution solely to serve and protect their interests;
(b) all persons responsible for the exercise of powers of State do so on trust and shall only exercise such power to the extent of their lawful authority and in accordance with their responsibilities to the people of Malawi
(c) the authority to exercise power of the State is conditional upon the sustained trust of the people of Malawi and that trust can only be maintained through open, accountable and transparent Government and informed democratic choice.
vi. Government should acknowledge the fact that people have got a right to hold demonstrations peacefully and unarmed. While the right is not absolute, it can only be limited in accordance with the law. Therefore the relevant authorities should not inordinately delay responding to notices for people to demonstrate.
vii. Government should refrain from interfering through its machinery or otherwise in instilling fear or violence in the people;
4.2 The Malawi Police Service (MPS)
i. The Police should professionally and independently execute their duties at all times.
ii. The Police should ensure that the use of force and firearms is guided by the law. The Police should observe the threshold provided in the Police Act on their roles with regard to assemblies and demonstrations.
iii. Police should refrain from a culture of violence and disrespect of human rights.
iv. The police should thoroughly investigate the disproportionate use of firearms during the demonstrations and in the aftermath and ensure that all those implicated are duly prosecuted.
4.3 Civil Society Organisations
a) CSOs should meet the threshold set in part 9 of the Police Act in planning and executing demonstrations, in particular putting in place effective leadership (conveners) for the demonstrations.
b) CSOs (Organizers of demonstrations) should intensify civic education and adequate dissemination of information before the conduct of such events. In particular, they should ensure the effective mobilisation of the masses to exercise the human rights in question with due regard to corresponding responsibilities.
c) CSOs should ensure proper planning of demonstrations, including issues of timing, meeting places, routes, and strategies and points of dispersal etc and adequate consultations with relevant stakeholders.
d) CSOs should give chance to dialogue before calling for another demonstration.
4.4 The media
Media should provide fair coverage of events and desist from reporting that may incite hostility and violence.
4.5 The General Public
i. People in Malawi should take cognizance of the fact that the exercise of the right to demonstrate peacefully and unarmed has attendant responsibilities. These should be respected in the exercise of the right.
ii. People should respect authority of the MPS as they execute their duties responsibly