HRDC Join Protests for Judicial Independence
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has endorsed demonstrations by some lawyers aimed at forcing the Executive arm of government to respect the Judiciary following an avalanche of attacks on judges by the president and cabinet ministers.
A group of lawyers under the banner Lawyers of Malawi is scheduled to take to the streets on Wednesday to protest alleged judicial invasion by the Executive arm of government.
In a statement issued Tuesday, which has been signed by Chairperson Gift Trapence, National Coordinator Luke Tembo, and regional coordinators Billy Mayaya (Centre) Happy Mhango (North), Masauko Thawe (South) and Madalitso Banda (East), the human rights body says the judiciary is the defender of constitutionalism and the rule of law hence any assault to it is an attack on democracy.
Trapence told Zodiak Online that they are supporting the protests because they feel they are a good cause to achieve judicial independence.
“We would want to see our judiciary being protected from the attacks that President Peter Mutharika and the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) have been doing to the judges.
We would want our democracy to be protected, we can only do that if we have the rule of law, where the Executive is not attacking the Judiciary.”
President Mutharika and some cabinet ministers have on several occasions attacked judges who formed the Constitutional Court which nullified the May 2019 Presidential election, accusing them of conniving with the opposition to push for regime change.
Besides the attacks, the resent notice by Chief Secretary to government Lloyd Muhara to send Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda on leave pending retirement has also inspired the demos as stakeholders fear this is a move to dismantle the judiciary.
Experts and different local and international stakeholders including Malawi’s quasi-religious body Public Affairs Committee (PAC), Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges Association (CMJA) and Southern African Chief Justices’ Forum (SACJF) have faulted the executive for interfering in functions of the judiciary.