The unescapable negative impact of torture makes its practice prohibited absolutely in virtually all comprehensive human rights instruments. Torture may take physical or psychological form and involves infliction of severe pain and suffering. Purposes of torture include obtaining information, confessions, intimidation and punishment. All these justifications are at odds with international human rights law which universally prohibits torture. Protecting the dignity of all persons, Section 19 of the Malawi constitution provides that no person shall be subject to torture of any kind or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Despite the prohibition of torture under both national and international law, torture persists in Malawi and is inflicted by both state and non-state agencies. Largely torture takes physical form but sometimes is psychological. In Malawi, excessive use of force by the police when effecting arrests and obtaining evidence is an open secret. Torture also extends to correctional facilities. In essence, torture denies the inherent dignity of its victims and other rights like the right to life and the right to a fair trial. Victims of torture also suffer psychological effects which include anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.
However in the face of impunity, investigations of torture are often stalled and perpetrators of torture have no reason to fear prosecution, let alone condemnation. Seldom are torturers brought to account in Malawi. This leaves torture victims with little to no remedy. This creates room for torturers to continue torturing.
Every 26th June, the world commemorates the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This day poses an opportunity to call on states, organisations and individuals to unite in support of torture victims and take intensive action to prevent torture. Most important to this day is the raising of awareness on remedies that torture victims have and also strengthening the voice against impunity. To honour this day, CHREAA, Reprieve and SALC have organized a march in Blantyre on 27th June to express solidarity with torture victims, raise awareness on reporting torture, campaign for prompt redress against tortures, appeal to mandated institution to condemn and provide redress for acts of torture, and to implore the Malawi government to provide prompt and appropriate medical, social and psychological assisstance for torture victims. The march will commence at Kristiwick Blantyre to CHREAA offices in Chitawira. The march will be followed by a press briefing at CHREAA offices.
The event will be graced by the Independent Complaints Commission Head, Commissioner Tukula, The Malawi Human Rights Commission, the Malawi prison service and other stakeholders. CHREAA, SALC and Reprieve also extends an invitation to the general public. Together we can.
For more information contact:
Apatsa Mangwana, firstname.lastname@example.org +265 991 70 36 69
ISSUED BY THE SOUTHERN AFRICA LITIGATION CENTER (SALC), CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE (CHREAA) AND REPRIEVE