By Lisa Tembo
Centre for Human Rights Education Advice Assistance (CHREAA) recently organized training in order to civic educate the police on Malawi Bail Project (MBP) .A research that was made five years ago by CHREAA revealed that 75% of the suspects are ignorant of their right to seek bail as they await trial. It also follows resistance CHREAA paralegals’ face at police stations and prisons whenever carrying out their duties concerning bail application for suspects on remand as well as data collection on those who have been bailed. The findings led to the establishment of MBP which aims at assisting suspects realize their right to bail particularly those arrested for minor offences.
CHREAA executive director Victor Mhango introduced the project to the police in order to familiarize them with its objectives. He also explained that CHREAA distributed radios and booklets in various police stations to help disseminate messages on how suspects can access bail. The radio messages targeting illiterate suspects are translated in vernacular for easy understanding.
A detective from Bangwe police station Josephy Chilinda hailed CHREAA for the MBP saying that it has helped to decongest prison and police cells. He also pledged to continue playing the radio message to detainees so that they understand what it takes for them to acquire bail.
CHREAA has been implementing various projects to promote human rights and justice for the people across the country for several years now and through bail project the organization conducts interviews with suspects in police stations and prisons in order to assist them with legal skills through which they can apply for bail.
In related development, police with funding from CHREAA held a side meeting with community leaders of Ndirande Township in Blantyre. The aim of the meeting was to sensitize the leaders on cases of mob justice which are reported to be rampant in the area. The police appealed to the community leaders to confine such acts in their respective communities and report suspects to the police for justice to prevail. Few weeks ago a man was murdered by an angry mob in Ndirande for stealing less than 10kgs of maize. Similarly, a 15 year old girl in the same township was rescued by the police from an angry mob for stealing a 2metres cloth (Chitenje) that was left hanging to dry. Acts of Mob justice infringes suspect’s rights to fair trial (section 42 of the constitution of the republic of Malawi) which is also contrary to what CHREAA fights for.