Malawi Human Rights Commission, Malawi Police and Women Lawyers Association (WLA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will facilitate fresh investigations into alleged rape and defilement of 18 women from Msundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika in Lilongwe in 2019.
It is believed that the victims were raped by Police officers who had gone to the areas to quell violent protests
Investigations by MHRC and Ombudsman indicate the law enforcers raped the women as they fled violent scenes.
Former Ombudsman Martha Chizuma (ACB Director) established that there were almost 100 police officers, who deployed in three teams stationed at M’bwatalika, Msundwe and Mpingu trading centres with others roving in communities where they allegedly tear-gassed people to displace them and some seized the opportunity to sexually assault the women.
“In the course of their operations of clearing the road, controlling the crowds, and making arrests, some police officers ventured into the villages and nearby locations throwing tear gas into houses, beating [people] and breaking into houses.
“As a result, most people, especially men and the youth, fled their village to their gardens, leaving the villages deserted. Some of the women who were left in the villages as others fled or arrived in the village while others fled met police officers who violently beat them, raped and indecently assaulted them,” said Chizuma.
MHRC also conducted the investigations to identify human rights violations and to facilitate access to justice and legal remedies of the survivors of the human rights violations.
WLA moved in by suing Malawi government seeking redress and accountability for the alleged violation of the rights of the women and girls who were apparently subjected to violence, rape, and sexual assault in the said areas.
The police too instituted their own enquiry whose results have never been known to the public.
But in an effort to identify the culprits and secure their prosecution, MHRC, Malawi Police and WLA on Tuesday, 27th July 2021 presented Terms of References (TORs) a fresh criminal investigation in the matter.
A representative of Women Lawyers Association, Hilda Soko said while the survivors were compensated, the criminal aspects of the case can only be investigated, validated, and prosecuted by Malawi Police.
“As key stakeholders, MHRC and WLA will ensure that MPS gets all the relevant and necessary support for a credible fresh investigation.
“The compensation the 18 women received was as a result of the Malawi Police’s failure to identify the culprits, but now we want the culprits to face the law and pledge support throughout the investigation, while ensuring that women’s rights are not violated,” Solo during the signing ceremony.
In his remarks, Inspector General of Police, George Kainja said he will not shield any officers who violated the rights of women and girls at the material time.
He stated the mandate to conduct criminal investigation lies with the country’s security agency regardless of who is involved.
Kainja, therefore, said the presence of the three institutions will ensure credible investigations that will adhere to human rights standards.