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Press briefing notes on Mob killings in Malawi

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Date:  5 April 2016

We are concerned about the increasing number of people killed in mob attacks in Malawi. Over the past two months, at least nine separate incidents leading to the death of 16 people have been reported across the country.

On 28 March, a mob stormed a police station, taking a man accused of murder out of his cell and killing him in Dedza, a city located some 85 km away from the capital, Lilongwe. In by far the worst incident reported this year, seven people accused of possessing human bones were attacked and set on fire by a mob on 1 March in Southern Malawi’s border district of Nsanje.

On 25 January, four elderly members of the same family were also beaten and killed by a mob in Neno District, after being accused of using witchcraft to kill a 17-year-old woman by lightning. In a separate incident, on 3 February, residents of a township in Blantyre, Malawi’s second largest city, set fire to a Court, apparently out of fear that it would grant bail to three men suspected of murder.

We welcome President Arthur Mutharika’s 30 March statement strongly condemning these crimes and calling on all citizens, NGOs and Government agencies to support the Malawi police in its fight against mob killings in accordance with the rule of law.

We urge the authorities in Malawi to act promptly to identify and prosecute those involved in mob killings, and to offer remedy to victims. We also urge the authorities to address the root causes of such attacks and to launch an awareness campaign to encourage people to report crimes to police rather than take justice into their own hands.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org)

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