The Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) jointly with the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network (AfricanDefenders) call on the Malawi authorities to immediately investigate the petrol bombing of Timothy Mtambo’s house in Lilongwe in the early hours of 15 August 2019 and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The SAHRDN and AfricanDefenders also further call on the authorities in Malawi to stop the attacks on both civic space and human rights defenders (HRDs).
On 15 August 2019 around 0230rhs unidentified men raided Timothy Mtambo’s house and attacked the property with petrol bombs. The attackers threw 3 petrol bombs, 2 bombs targeted the house where Timothy Mtambo was sleeping and 1 was thrown at the gate apparently to prevent Timothy Mtambo and his family from escaping the house on fire. Despite being outnumbered by the attackers, the security guards at Timothy Mtambo’s house managed to disrupt the attackers and scare them off. The attackers had set Timothy Mtambo’s house and a car on fire through the petrol bombs. Timothy Mtambo and his family of 4 children who were sleeping in the house at the time of the attack survived the attack with no injuries.
“We are deeply troubled by this unwarranted attack on Timothy Mtambo. We are aware that the attack is linked to his work as a human rights defender and being the Chairperson of the Malawi Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC)” said Arnold Tsunga Chairperson of the SAHRDN. “We expect the authorities to take prompt action to investigate the assault on Timothy and his family and to make the results of such investigation public,” added Tsunga.
Following the holding of elections in a controversial way, civil society in Malawi lead by the HRDC and Timothy Mtambo have been protesting demanding accountable governance. The protests have attracted large numbers showing that
a significant aount of the population of Malawi associate themselves with calls for accountable governance.
“The struggle by civil society lead by the HRDC for accountable governance is part of legitimate enjoyment of civil and political rights and needs to be protected under international law obligations that are binding on Malawi” stated Mr Hassan Shire the Chairperson of AfricanDefenders and Executive Director at DefendDefenders.
Malawi is a signatory to a number of international human rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. These guarantee the right to enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms such as the rights to freedom of association, assembly and movement as well as the right to formulate opinions and express them. These rights are also codified in the Constitution of Malawi. It is therefore important for Malawi to take action to protect civic space and HRDs as part of its commitment under international law. The SAHRDN and AfricanDefenders will continue monitoring the action of Malawi in resolving this petrol bomb attack on Timothy Mtambo.