Malawi reviewed under the UPR: States call for international treaties to be ratified
Thursday, 18 November 2010 12:38


On the afternoon of 1 November 2010, the Working Group on the universal periodic review (UPR) reviewed the human rights situation in Malawi. The delegation was headed by Justice Dr Jane Ansah, the Attorney-General, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and was composed of five members from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the national human rights institution, the Human Rights Commission.


The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is an independent national human rights institution, which is established under Chapter XI of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. It has a broad mandate of promoting and protecting human rights and its establishment was praised by many States. The institution had been accredited with 'A' status and has taken steps to implement human rights education and training.[1]


In its introductory statement Malawi highlighted that a Bill of Rights has been in place since 1994. In addition, Malawi said its national priorities, including education, food security, and women and children, were contained in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, which recognised the importance of human rights in the context of good governance and democracy. Common issues raised and recommendations made during the interactive dialogue included:

  • Recommendations to ratify the second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (aimed at the abolition of the death penalty) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).
  • Recommendations to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and ensure follow-up to the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
  • Concerns over the criminalisation of homosexual behaviour. According to the United States, criminalisation of homosexual people contributes to the spread of HIV in the country, as individuals fear revealing their sexual orientation making it difficult for them to access health services. In response to concerns regarding the criminal prosecution of persons who had engaged in same-sex relations, Malawi emphasised that it had no law criminalising same-sex marriage, but that it did have a law proscribing 'unnatural offences', under which homosexual acts would fall.
  • Recommendations on strengthening the education system and making primary school mandatory and free of charge.
  • Calls for improvement of living conditions in prisons.
  • Concerns about discrimination and violence against women, including female genital mutilation, and about the extent of human trafficking. In order to ensure gender equality and tackle gender-based violence, some countries recommended that Malawi increase the participation of women in the justice system, and at all levels of decision-making. With regard to the practice of female genital mutilation, Malawi denied the use of this practice in the country.
  • Recommendations to ensure the constitutional provisions related to freedom of expression, speech and assembly are respected.
  • Recommendations to prohibit child labour, corporal punishment and sexual abuse of children.

Malawi drew attention to the numerous challenges faced by the country, including a lack of adequate resources and a lack of capacity and expertise.


The adoption of the report by the Working Group was positive, with Malawi accepting 65 recommendations. Malawi rejected 39 recommendations, and will examine 23 recommendations to which it will provide responses by the March 2011 session of the Human Rights Council. These include recommendations to ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Optional Protocol to CAT, and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.


[1] For more info on the MHRC:


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 November 2010 12:40
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2018