By Lisa Tembo
Early this week, CHREAA executive director Victor Mhango was invited by members of parliament from defence and security committee to appreciate what the organisation does especially when it comes to issues of access to justice to vulnerable groups. The director highlighted that since 2014 CHREAA has been campaigning for the outlawing of this legislation on the basis that its application violated the citizen’s constitutional rights to dignity because it gives too much discretion to law enforcers and because the right to be presumed innocent is negated. And after the High sitting as the constitutional court then agreed and held that the application of section 184(1)(c) of the penal code produces disproportionate results in many cases with marginalised groups.
Another major success that CHREAA scored in the past year was the in securing a major victory for sex workers in the “Republic vs Pempho Banda and 18 others in zomba. Over and above cases, CHREAA continued to undertake its other projects such as Bail Education, Strategic Litigation and Advocacy where remarkable gains were made in raising awareness and advancing human rights.
The director also highlighted to the committee some of the issues that the prison department face including poor quality of medical care and overcrowding and poor physical conditions (for example, prison cells are built to accommodate 50 to 60 inmates but currently holds 150 to 250 per cell) among others.
The defence and security committee hailed CHREAA for the remarkable job its doing and hopes for the organisation to expand into other districts as well. On the other hand the director is also hoping to work together with the committee for defence and security in other areas.