The Royal Norwegian ambassador to Malawi Asbjørn Eidhammer has advised civil society organizations in the country not to relax in fighting things to do with human rights.
He said this at a meeting aimed at creating meangful dialogue on accountability for civil society and governance institutions in Malawi. “The current change of government does not mean that civil and human rights are secured for good” he said. The ambassador said the human rights organization must be vigilant as they are more human rights concerns that are more deeply rooted and circumstances that are more difficult to change.
He said the change of government has given the organizations an opportunity to direct their energies to on work on many issues that need their attention. He cited examples of recent reviews that are showing that many Malawians including prisoners still do not have access to justice and that woman and people living in rural areas are not able to access services that are being offered by human rights organizations.
Ambassador Asbjørn Eidhammer said diverse groups like women, youth, disabled, and minority groups should all take part in free expression in any democratic debate.
He therefore applauded newspapers and radio stations that withstood the pressure to silence them in the recent past but stood their ground.
In his remarks, board chairman for Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), Mr Undule Mwakasungula, said he believes that governance institutions are a key to enhancing democracy in the country.
Responding to a question as to why the civil society organizations are keeping quiet to some governance issues taking place in the President Joyce Banda’s administration, Mwakasungula said the organizations are repositioning themselves on how to start tackling some of the issues. But he was quick to point out that, some organizations like Consumers Association of Malawi and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace have started pointing out some bad things under the new administration.
He denied the accusations circulating on social media networks that civil society organizations are supporting administration owing to their silence over the visible missteps of the current administration yet they were so vocal against the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s rule.