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Press briefing notes on Malawi

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 22 January 2016

We are concerned by recent developments in Malawi, where the spokesperson of one of the country’s main political parties recently described gay and lesbian people as “worse than dogs” and called for them to be killed.

The statements were made, earlier this month, by People’s Party spokesperson Kenneth Msonda on his personal Facebook page and repeated in media interviews.

Mr Msonda was subsequently charged under section 124(1)(b) of the Penal Code, which makes it a criminal offence to incite others to break the law.  He was due to appear before the Blantyre Magistrate Court today, 22 January, after a criminal case was initiated by two civil society organizations.

Regrettably, yesterday (21 January) the Director of Public Prosecutions filed a notice before the Chief Magistrate’s Court to discontinue the case, underlining that the State will not prosecute Mr Msonda.

We are concerned that the failure to prosecute this case sends a dangerous message that inciting others to kill gay people is legitimate and will be tolerated by the authorities – in effect encouraging violent threats and attacks on the gay and lesbian community in Malawi.

In May 2015, Malawi accepted a recommendation under the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, here in Geneva, to “take effective measures to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons from violence, and prosecute the perpetrators of violent attacks.”  

The Government of Malawi has a responsibility, enshrined in international human rights law, to protect all individuals from hatred and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and to hold to account anyone who either engages in such violence or incites others to do so. We urge the Government to meet its responsibilities in this regard.


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

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