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Malawi: NGO Says Piece-Meal Arrests Amount to Political Persecution

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The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has written the Attorney General (AG), Dr Chikosa Silungwe, expressing its shock with the way the State apparatus is handling suspects believed to have committed multiple offences during the immediate former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

While congratulating the government chief legal advisor for demonstrating high caliber of professionalism and independence in discharging his duties, CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa says they are saddened with the way the law enforcement agencies have handled suspects such as the former President Peter Mutharika’s personal bodyguard, Norman Paulosi Chisale, and a DPP councillor Isaac Jomo Osman.

Chisale and Osman have both been arrested four times and three times back to back, respectively.

Namiwa emphasizes that although there is nothing unlawful to arrest people several times, but they still believe it is an infringement on the suspects’ human rights, as well as psychological torture to keep on arresting them consecutively!

“Such tendencies which are currently being displayed by the law enforcement agencies are giving an impression of political persecution, and they are reflecting very badly on the Tonse Alliance administration, for which you, sir, are its chief legal advisor.

“We do not want to believe that your office, sir, has given the node for such tendencies to be executed by the security agencies. If indeed such tendencies do not have the blessing of your office, sir, then we are afraid that we have law enforcement agencies in the country which do not respect the office of the Attorney General, a development that will in the long run plunge the country into crisis,” writes Namiwa in the letter, which Nyasa Times has seen.

However, he reiterates the earlier stand of his organisation that government reserves the right and liberty to prosecute all the people that contravened the law without fear or favour.

But Namiwa fears the consecutive arrests have the potential to bring fear in the hearts of many peace-loving Malawians.

“We further do not want to have a feeling that Malawi is now drifting into a police state, and neither should we be made to remember the dark past of the infamous one-party regime which was known for detentions.

“It is against this background that we write your good office to consider advising the prosecuting agencies to consolidate all the charges for all the suspects to avoid attracting unnecessary fear and panic. The consolidation of charges has been done in the past where suspects were brought to court with multiple offences and they were charged consecutively,” he stresses.

“It is our hope, therefore, that your swift intervention on this matter, and subsequent matters of similar nature in future, will continue to earn the respect it deserves, and that the public will continue to have trust in the credibility of the office of the Attorney General. As things are, however, your office risks losing its credibility since we are made to believe that this perceived political prosecution has the blessings of the government’s Chief Legal Advisor, in this case the Attorney General,” he adds.

However, Namiwa commends the AG for high levels of professionalism and independence in the way he has discharged his duties since his appointment two months ago.

The CDEDI boss says, of late, Silungwe has brought a new lease of life to this office.

“We at CDEDI have in mind your timely advice to the Office of the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) where you fearlessly condemned it for making appointments that contravened the law. You also recently advised the Presidential Committee on COVID-19 not to implement preventive measures which were stopped by the court through an injunction.

“This has made CDEDI, and indeed all like-minded institutions, specifically the public to have trust in the credibility of the AG’s office,” says Namiwa.

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