By Sylvester Chibwana
The European Union has reaffirmed committment towards supporting interventions on human rights in Malawi; especially now in this area of climate change and environmental protection. Though a specific amount was not mentioned, this year’s funding was over 50million Euros.
Speaking on behalf of the EU, Ms. Elsie Boonstra, Deputy Head of Mission, said that the EU considers interventions on the right to clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a fundamental human right. Also the Head of UN in Malawi, Ms. Maria De Ribeiro, representing all development partners expressed satisfaction with the progress Malawi has made over the years in other areas of human rights, but urgent all CSOs and development partners to do more in the area of climate change.
The EU representative was speaking on Mon 12December at Capital hotel in Lilongwe as Malawi was commemorated the International Human Rights Day where His Excellency the State President Dr. Lazarus Mccarthy Chakwera had delegated to the Minister to be guest of honour.
This year’s theme for the event which was led by the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) was: The Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment.
The EU representative also commended the Malawi Government, MHRC, CSOs and all human rights defenders for the sustained combined efforts in all the aspects of human rights, but also more recently on environmental protection.
“Let me finish by reiterating that the European Union stands with Malawi, and continues to support its efforts in the area of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” said the EU representative. She also said over the past six years, EU support on human rights came through Chilungamo programme which focused on justice and accountability, and provided over 52 million euros to the Malawi Human Rights Commission and to other key players such as the Prison Service and the Legal Aid Bureau. She said these institutions play a key role in serving the most vulnerable and marginalised communities and safeguarding their rights.
EU further said from 2023 onwards, they will be launching two follow-up programmes, aiming to continue support based on the priorities of promoting the protection of vulnerable groups, strengthening access to justice though justice and accountability institutions, reducing cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, strengthening civil society organisations, and cementing freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Speaking on behalf of the event organizers, the Malawi Human Rights Commission, Chairperson and Commissioner Ms. Scalder Louis said that the choice of this year’s theme was centred on the local and global challenges in the area of climate change and environmental degradation. She further said Malawi’s acute power shortage is as a result of challenges in the climate change and environmental degradation and thus asked Government and all development partners to invest more in saving Malawi’s environment as this is a human rights issue.
Minister for National Unity Hon Timothy Mtambo who was the guest of honour has urged the EU, UN, Human Rights organizations and CSOs in Malawi to take advantage of the conductive civic environment created by the current Government which includes the recently enacted laws and repealed statutes. He also congratulatulated the MHRC, other human rights defenders and all development partners for doing more to save Malawi’s environment from utter degradation, saying a clean and healthy environment is a matter of human rights.
“Let me also take this opportunity to urge everyone to support Government, MHRC, Ministry of National Unity, the Police and many partners in upholding human rights and environmental protection in every community. Ministry of National Unity alone cannot be everywhere to resolve issues of peace, unity and human rights,” said the Minister.
The event was also patronised by Ambassadors from the US Embassy, Irish Embassy, Executive Directors of Human Rights organizations, CSOs, Political party representatives and many others.