Eliminating torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment connected to the use of the death penalty in Malawi’s criminal justice system

CHREAA in partnership with Reprieve is implementing a project called Eliminating Torture and other cruel inhuman degrading treatment or punishment connected to the use of the death penalty in Malawi’s criminal justice system.

The overall goal of the project is to ensure that capital punishment is abolished and that there is no use of torture in all places of detention including police stations as well as prisons.

Malawi’s Criminal Justice System, especially in places of detention, exposes people to torture. From arrest to execution, people who find themselves in conflict with the law are at risk of torture in Police stations and at prisons, the current conditions further subject people to cruel inhuman degrading treatment which also amounts to torture and this is due to the fundamental shortcomings in the law.

It was observed that the reason for the increase or high prevalence in torture cases is due to Section 176 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence code which allows admissions of evidence through the use of torture. This provision breaches international laws that Malawi is ratified to and serves to incentivize the use of torture by Police officers. Furthermore, due to underfunding of Malawi Prison Service, people are subjected to cruel inhuman degrading treatment as a result of overcrowding in prison cells, hygiene as well as poor diets given to incarcerated victims.

Activities under the project

Lawyers and Paralegals Training – This training took place with young lawyers to equip them with the necessary expertise they can use when litigating and investigating torture cases.

Police Offices and Prison Warders Training –The training was conducted to strategize ways to improve living conditions by ending torture in places of detention. The training was to further saturate correctional officers with knowledge on local and international laws that Malawi as a country is ratified to and the importance of upholding these laws and the consequences that come as a result of breaching these laws.

Journalists Training – The training trained journalists on how we can work together with this project to disseminate torture cases to the general public so that we build consensus from the general public in the need to reform.

Open Day at Domasi Prison – The UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June the United Nations ‘International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and to commemorate this day, CHREAA spent the day with inmates from Domasi Prison in Zomba. During the function, there was an in-depth interaction on various human rights issues that exist and how the inmates can be supported.

The event reached out to around 300 inmates and there were 48 inmates who lodged complaints and their statements were recorded for further investigations.