The Media Advocates for the Advancement of Child Rights (MAACR), is deeply saddened by the death of 8 people, 7 of whom are children, today July 6, 2017.
The children and one adult, died this morning in a stampede, which occurred as people pressed to find the way into the Bingu Stadium in Lilongwe a few hours before the scheduled match between Silver Strikers and Nyasa Big Bullets.
Preliminary reports suggest that police fired teargas as they tried to contain the situation.
“We urge journalists to highlight lapses in police public management systems in riots that involve people of different age groups,” reads the statement from the media group.
“Last month, we called on media practitioners to do the same when the police fired teargas and dispersed pupils rioting in Balaka, Ntcheu and Blantyre.”
Without prejudice to any inquiry on the current matter, police officers deployed to manage crowds, should at all times execute their duties professionally. Such professional conduct should take be cognizance of prevailing child protection principles.
Police officers need to be held accountable for failing to execute their duties having reasonably assessed the risk of their subsequent public management action.
Some may accuse parents, who bring their children to such public events as being irresponsible. However, these parents probably have good intentions of inculcating social awareness in their children.
Instead of telling parents to keep their children away from such public events, we should press the authorities to manage public order without using excessive violence or tactics that expose children to greater danger.
Children have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by Article 15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It is therefore imperative that police should at all times, recognize the need to make their public order methods child-friendly.
Malick Mnela is President of the Media Advocates for the Advancement of Child Rights (MAACR)