Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda is not going on leave

LILONGWE (MaraviPost): The new Malawi Government led by Lazarus Chakwera has chosen arrests and intimidation of opposition members as the way to begin their regime. However, this is just history repeating itself as Kamuzu Banda arrested and detained people without due process.

Aleke Banda was imprisoned under the Banda regime for no charge and this was contested by Amnesty International. In communication no. 63/92 Krishna Achuthan appealed to the Commission on behalf of his father-in-law, Aleke Banda. He had been imprisoned for 12 years without legal charge or trial. When Mr. Achuthan met with two successive heads of intelligence of Malawi, they confirmed that there was no case pending against Mr. Aleke Banda, but that he was being held “at the pleasure of the head of state (Kamuzu Banda)

From the country’s independence in 1964 until 1980, Gwanda Chakuamba was a key figure within the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which was the sole legal political party. During the rule of President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, he held many cabinet positions and was Commander of the MCP youth group Malawi Young Pioneers.

However, Gwanda Chakuamba made the mistake of opposing John Tembo. In February 1980, Gwanda Chakuamba was charged, on the behest of Tembo and Kadzamira, with sedition and given a 22-year prison sentence. He was released from jail in July 1993, a month after voters endorsed a return to multiparty politics in a referendum.

Within the first 60 days of its rule the Chakwera led government has arrested and detained people with the flimsy of evidence. The have arrested and re-arrested people on multiple charges. As we speak Chisale remains in jail without seeing a judge going to three weeks.

As Malawians know your rights and the laws Applicable to you:

Brought to court

A person arrested and detained in custody and who is not cautioned and released, released on police bail, or released on insufficient evidence, must be brought to a court having jurisdiction as soon as is practical but not later than 48 hours after arrest, unless the 48 hours expires outside court hours, in which case the first day after the expiry of 48 hours, failing which, the constitution says he must be released (art.42.2b of the Malawi constitution).

A person arrested on Monday at 11am, who is not otherwise released within 48 hours, must be brought before court before Wednesday at 11am. A person arrested on Thursday night, if it is practical, must be brought before court on Friday; if Friday is not practical, then they must be brought to court on Monday morning, unless the person is otherwise released. The constitution does not distinguish between offences. Therefore, even homicide arrests must be brought to court within 48 hours.

Malawi Pre-trial Detention

The Malawian Constitution states that every person who is detained in Malawi shall have the right to be informed of the reason for his or her detention promptly in a language he or she understands.

Such persons are to be held under conditions consistent with human dignity and have the right to consult confidentially with a legal practitioner of his or her choice and to have visits from relatives.

The same section of the constitution determines that a detained person shall have the right to be released if such detention is unlawful

According to article (1)(c) of section 42 of Malawi’s Constitution, every person who is detained, including every sentenced prisoner, shall have the right to consult confidentially with a legal practitioner of his or her choice, to be informed of this right promptly and, where the interests of justice so require, to be provided with the services of a legal practitioner by the State.

Presumption of Innocence

Article (1)(f)(iii) of section 42 of the Malawian Constitution states that an accused person shall have the right to be presumed innocent during plea proceedings or a trial.

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