Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Tuesday, 5 May 2015 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Malawi
Represented by 12 member delegation headed by Samuel Tembenu, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Malawi  page on UPR website.

Troika *

Albania, Kazakhstan, Kenya.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on Malawi  page on UPR Extranet **)

  • Since 2010, Malawi has undergone two peaceful political transition processes - firstly, in April 2012, following the death of the country’s third President, and in May 2014, when Malawi held its first ever tripartite elections;
  • Presently, the Ministry of Justice and the Human Rights Commission were leading the process of drafting a National Human Rights Action Plan with support from UNDP; the Government put in place various human rights awareness programs including on women and child rights, and the rights of persons with disabilities;
  • Since 2011, the Office of the Ombudsman has been involved in various activities to align itself to the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) as well as to ensure that services were closer to the people;
  • The MGDS II was the government’s medium term plan for 2011-2016 which aimed to create wealth through sustainable economic growth and infrastructure development as a means of achieving poverty reduction;
  • Malawi has 105 active human rights civil society organizations that complement government efforts on issues of human rights and democratic governance in Malawi;
  • In 2012, the Government passed the Disability Act and undertook a situation analysis on children with disabilities which resulted in a National Work Plan on programmes for children with disabilities;
  • Several steps have been taken to ensure that persons in detention were kept in humane and decent living conditions and the Malawi Prisons service appointed a prisoners social welfare officer for each prisoner to heighten human rights awareness and respect;
  • The National Plan Of Action for vulnerable children aimed to improve the livelihood of 1,8 million vulnerable children in Malawi by the end of 2018; Malawi has also taken measures to deal with the problem of child labour;
  • Malawi has enacted four key legislation in the recent past to promote the rights of women and girls including the Gender Equality Act in 2013, the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act in 2015, and the Trafficking in Persons Act in 2015;
  • The Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare has undertaken numerous trainings of stakeholders on the use and enforcement of the Gender Equality Act and public awareness programmes were expected to continue to combat domestic violence;
  • About 200 Police Victim Support Units and 300 Community Victim Support Unit have been established throughout the country. There were plans to establish more “One Stop Centres” at central and district hospitals to aid survivors of gender based violence;
  • The passing of the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act, which placed the age of marriage at 18, was a clear statement of the Government’s commitment to end early and child marriages.

Participants

In total 74 States participated in the dialogue:  28 HRC members and 46 observers  (Statements available on Malawi  page on UPR Extranet)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The adoption of the Gender Equality Act of 2013;
  • The adoption of the Disability Act;
  • The strengthening of the institutional human rights framework, especially the setting up of the Mediator’s and Ombudsman Offices;
  • The peaceful and first tripartite elections held in 2014;
  • The Medium Term Plan 2011 – 2016, aimed at creating wealth through sustainable economic growth and infrastructure development;
  • The national efforts aimed at protecting the rights of the child and the signing in 2010 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement in armed conflict;

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Gender equality, women’s rights and violence against women and children;
  • The situation in prisons and detention facilities;
  • The high rates of child marriages;
  • The continued discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Issues linked to the protection of human rights defenders and journalists;
  • Steps to improve food security;

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Malawi.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To enact the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill with a view to ending child, early and forced marriage, and other harmful practices;
  • To improve conditions in prisons, to reduce pre-trial detentions and to guarantee fair trial;
  • To Repeal legal provisions criminalizing consensual sexual activities between people of the same sex and laws that discriminate against LGBT persons;
  • To abolish the death penalty;
  • To extend an open invitation to UN Special Procedures;
  • To combat child marriages and raise the minimum age of marriage to 18;
  • To fight against all forms of discrimination and violence against women and to promote gender equality;
  • To address the issue of women’s right to acquire, change or retain their nationality on an equal basis with men;
  • Combat violence against women and girls and expedite the Domestic Violence Act;
  • To make primary education free and compulsory and to promote human rights education, especially in law enforcement organs;
  • To ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by persons living with albinism;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the Convention on Enforced Disappearances; the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment; the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in education; the second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty; the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families;  and ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Malawi  is scheduled to take place on Friday, 8 May 2015.

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

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Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org
Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org

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