Written By Chinsinsi Cheketa:
The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) says it will not relent its quest for law enforcement agencies carrying out the relocation exercise of refugees and asylum seekers, to uphold the respect for human rights in all their actions.
MHRC Director of Civil and Political Rights Peter Chisi tells Umunthu FM serious allegations have been made regarding the treatment that the refugees are facing, including subjecting children to harsh conditions in prison.
“So far, we’ve received reports that 150 children were arrested together with their parents and have suffered inhuman torture in prison amid the exercise”.
He also lamented that the commission did not receive full cooperation from authorities handling the exercise as they were denied direct interaction with the refugees and hoped that the commission will this week be given the access after engaging with the Ministry of Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, Parliament of Malawi has endorsed the action taken by the Ministry of Homeland Security in enforcing the relocation exercise.
A statement made by three Parliamentary Committees namely, Defence and Security, Trade and Industry and International Relations states that as a member of the United Nations (UN) which has domesticated some UN Conventions on refugees, the Malawi Government is acting within the law governing refugees in the country.
“What some of the refugees were doing by freely wandering around and in certain cases operating businesses without permits, was a recipe for chaos and rendered our laws on refugees almost useless”, reads part of the statement.
The Parliamentary Committees say they would not want to see lawlessness prevail in the manner in which refugees behave in this country.
“We, therefore, wish to strongly encourage the Minister of Homeland Security to ensure that the exercise continues within the law and observance of human rights by the law enforcers”, adds the statement.
According to the committees, the action taken by the government is based on a culmination of various notices and court processes during which the said refugees were requested to return to designated refugee camps, however, such requests and orders were not adhered to.
Reports indicate that over 400 refugees and asylum seekers were temporarily kept at Maula Prison in Lilongwe waiting for relocation to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa, as of last week.