For over six months, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) operated without commissioners, a situation that raised concerns among human rights experts who stressed the importance of having a fully functional body to oversee critical human rights checks and investigations.
The seventh cohort, led by disability rights activist Scader Louis, had their three-year tenure come to a close in February of the current year, leaving a vacancy in this crucial institution. The absence of commissioners during this period was seen as a setback, given the pivotal role the MHRC plays in safeguarding human rights within the nation.
However, in a significant development, President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwela has taken decisive action to address this issue. On September 14, 2023, Habiba Osman, the Executive Secretary of MHRC, released an official statement announcing the appointment of members to the Eighth cohort of the Malawi Human Rights Commission. This appointment is in accordance with section 131 (2) of the constitution of the Republic of Malawi.
The newly appointed members of the Eighth cohort include: Mr. Viwemi Chavula, Mrs Teresa Chirwa-Ndanga, Mr. Andrew Kavala, Mr. Bonface Massah, Dr. Sunduzwayo Madise, Ms Scader Louls, Ms Chikondi Chijozi, The Law Commissioner, and The Ombudsman. These appointments officially took effect on August 26, 2023, and the appointed members will serve a term of three years.
This development is a significant step forward in ensuring that MHRC continues its crucial work in safeguarding and promoting human rights in Malawi.
With the MHRC’s renewed leadership, there is hope that it will continue to play a pivotal role in addressing human rights issues, conducting investigations, and advocating for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms for all Malawians. This move reaffirms the government’s commitment to upholding human rights and strengthening institutions responsible for ensuring their protection and promotion.