LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-One of the country’s civil rights groups, Forum for National Development (FND) has penned the Malawi Law Society (MLS) demanding investigations into allegations of threats and intimidation from some lawyers targeting Ashok Nair.
In his February 25, 2022, letter addressed to MLS president and copied to the Attorney General and Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), FND National Coordinator, Fryson Chodzi says that some lawyers have been threatening and intimidating Nair and his lawyer for dragging ACB Director General Martha Chizuma to court for defamation.
In the letter, Chodzi expresses his “great concern on the allegations leveled against the legal fraternity in this country and how the fraternity is reacting to the ongoing investigations that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is carrying out on politically exposed persons receiving bribes.”
He says there have been sentiments from the legal fraternity as regards to the civil case where Nair has dragged Chizurna to court on defamation charges.
“There have been sentiments that alludes to the fact that Mr. Ashok should not have gone to court, and there have been threats to even the lawyer representing Mr. Ashok in this matter. If the sentiments were coming from citizens who are not part of the legal fraternity, we would have understood, but we have noted that members of Malawi Law Society who understands matters of law and constitutional rights of individuals have chosen to join and advocate for mob justice,” reads the letter in part made available the Maravi Post..
“First, the ACB Director alleged in the leaked audio that 20 plus lawyers are corrupt of which we believe that all of them are members of your society. Since these allegations were made, we took time to reflect and feel it’s noble for your society to get to the root of these allegations, as it is regarded as a noble profession.
“We are sadden on the damage this has done to the judiciary as well. So your urgent attention to the matter will be greatly appreciated. It appears that ACB officers have enough information on the matter. Furthermore, the ACB director claims high moral integrity in her audio, so we assume she will be of great assistance,” Chodzi added.
Chodzi argues that as per the Laws of Malawi, everyone has a right to seek legal redress when felt injured and has a right to legal representation and that any attempt to undermine this right is eroding other people’s rights to fairness and equity under the law.
He cites Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Malawi, which entails that no person shall be decimated against based on race among other creeds.
“Therefore, for any learned legal person, let alone a member of Malawi Law Society to insinuate that Mr. Ashok should not have his rights is despicable to say the least. FND as firm believers of human rights, we might not agree with what Mr. Ashok did or is doing but will defend to death his rights to a fair trial, due process of the law and his rights to seek redress when he feels injured.
“This is a basic that any human rights body and activist must uphold and we believe should be the same with learned legal minds and members of the Malawi Law Society (MLS). We are further aware that all members of the legal fraternity and indeed members of the Law Society are aware of the Rome statute article 66 of the presumption of innocence which states; Everyone shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty before the court in accordance with the applicable law.
“It is therefore mind baffling that members of the law society are treating Mr. Ashok so differently and are issuing threats to him and his lawyer. It is therefore prudent that the society must take action to ensure that the rights of people are not being eroded and that the laws are respected. Malawi’s laws cannot be applied through a mob justice system of which few misguided but feeling entitled individuals must dictate who gets justice and not,” concludes the letter.
In his writing By Dr. Atusaye Munthali says that Ashok’s court action against ACB boss Martha Chizuma should not be withdrawn as its every Malawian right to seek justice.
Dr Munthali adds that Chizuma must prove herself in court.