African institutions condemns Mutharika for threats against Judges

African institutions condemns Mutharika for threats against Judges
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By: Vincent Gunde

A joint statement from African institutions is calling upon the executive branch of the Government of Malawi to respect the independence of the Judiciary, especially at this time when Malawi is heading towards the re – run of the Presidential Election.

The statement is also calling upon the Hon. Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda and the Hon. Judge Edward Twea to continue with their functions as Judicial officers, condemning the Government’s notice describing it as simply unconstitutional and unprocedurally issued and potentially void.

The institutions reiterates that the decision whether or not to go on leave pending retirement is one that must be taken voluntarily by the concerned Judicial officer and must be announced by the appropriate body.

This is contained in the joint statement with signatories from institutions some which are African Defenders( Uganda), Advancing Rights in Southern Africa ( South Africa), Africa Judges and Jurists( South Africa) and Amnesty International among others on threats against the independence of Judges in Malawi.

In the statement, the institutions noted with grave concern, the recent notice issued by the Chief Secretary to the Government announcing that the Chief Justice, Hon. Andrew Nyirenda is with immediate effect going on leave pending his retirement.

The institutions further noted with same concern that a similar communication was issued in respect of another judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Edward Twea saying the tenure is meant to end December, 2021 for Chief Justice while that of Justice Edward Twea is April, 2021 .

The statement says for the reasons that have been issued by the executive branch of Government, it does not disclosed whether or not the two voluntarily made their decision, viewing this announcement as an attempt to interfere with the independence of the Judiciary.

The institutions say the Government of Malawi has an obligation to respect the security of tenure of Judges and respect the independence of the Judiciary saying all courts and all persons presiding over these courts shall exercise their functions, powers, and duties independent of the influence and direction of any other person or authority, Section 103(1).

….” The Government of Malawi must honour these important obligations and ensure that Judges are not involuntarily placed on leave by the executive branch of Government, pending retirement,”…reads part of the joint statement.

Meanwhile, news circulating on the social media are allegedly indicating that Government deliberately planned to send on forced leave pending retirement, Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda for his choice Justice Lloyd Muhara after the number 3 in the Judiciary, Justice Dr. Jane Ansah flopped.

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