Malawi Law Society defends police over HRDC arrests

Malawi Law Society (MLS) president Burton Chidongondo Mhango has backed the Police action in arresting two leaders of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Gift Trapence and MacDonald Sembereka, saying by declaring their plan publicly to seal State Residences which are protected, the activists flouted laws of the land.

HRDC and others, were planning “citizen’s electoral justice march” to the State House on 25 March aimed to pressure President Peter Mutharika to sign election reforms bills passed by parliament.

Law Society president said being human rights activists does not mean they are above the law, saying they need “not to be lawless in their conduct.” Said Mhango: “An attempt to commit an offence is a crime and planning can lead to committing an offence. If someone was planning to seal State House that was reason enough to be picked.”

Since last year’s May election results, the HRDC has been organizing protests, which have sometimes turned violent.

Meantime Political parties have condemned the arrests even suggesting they will continue with the illegal marches to close Statehouse.

The United Transformation Movement has condemned the arrest of the two leaders of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), Gift Trapence and Reverend McDonald Sembereka.

” It requires no special intelligence to realise that the unfortunate action by the Malawi Police Service (MPS) is a direct response to the unwarranted and irresponsible orders issued at a joint rally by the Democratic Progressive party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre a few hours earlier, ” reads the press realise.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Lazarus Chakwera has threatened to mobilize Malawians to march to State House if the Malawi Police do not release arrested activists.

In a statement released today, Chakwera said President Peter Mutharika should release the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) member MacDonald Sembereka and vice chairperson Gift Trapence who were arrested on Sunday.

“Should he fail to do so within 48 hours, I will personally galvanize all peace-loving and law-abiding Malawians to march on the State House of which he is a temporary tenant and camp there until these innocent activists are released,” he said.

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