Malawi
10.03.10
Urgent Interventions

Ongoing arbitrary detention in poor conditions of detention and alleged ill-treatment of Mr. Steve Monjeza and Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga

Case MWI 100310
Alleged ill-treatment/ Ongoing arbitrary detention

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Malawi.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by reliable sources, including Antenna International, a member of OMCT SOS-Torture Network, about the ongoing arbitrary detention in poor conditions of detention and the alleged ill-treatment, including a forced medical examination to determine the sex of the person, of Mr. Steve Monjeza (26 years old) and Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga (20 years old), a couple from Blantyre.

According to the information received, on 27 December 2009, Mr. Steve Monjeza and Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga were arrested in Chileka Township, in Blantyre, after their engagement ceremony. The day of their arrest, they were allegedly subjected to verbal abuses by the community and beaten by the police upon their arrival at the police station.

On 30 December 2009, they were charged of "unnatural practices between males and gross public indecency" and they were forced to appear on TV. On January 2010, Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga was subjected to a compulsory medical examination at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to verify if he was a man or a woman. The authorities also attempted to verify if there was any proof of penetration.

According to the same information, Mr. Steve Monjeza and Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga remain currently detained at Chichiri prison. Their trial verdict is expected on 22 March 2010. Both of them are suffering psychological and physical problems due to the ill-treatment and the poor detention conditions (lack of adequate food, harassment by other detainees, etc.).

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned about the situation of Mr. Steve Monjeza and Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga. OMCT recalls to the authorities of Malawi that they are legally bound to effectively ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all persons deprived of liberty in accordance with regional and international human rights law, and in particular article 5 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

OMCT further calls on the competent authorities of Malawi to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of ill-treatment suffered by Mr. Steve Monjeza and Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law.

Finally, OMCT calls on the competent authorities to immediately release Mr. Steve Monjeza and Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international legal standards. In this respect, OMCT recalls that, in line with its obligations under the abovementioned treaties, it is incumbent on Malawi to respect and protect the right to freedom of conscience, freedom of expression and the right to privacy, without discrimination on the grounds of, among others, sexual orientation.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Malawi urging them to:

  1. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Steve Monjeza and Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga;
  2. Guarantee unconditional access to their lawyer and their families, as well as guarantee that they are examined by independent doctors and receive adequate medical care, in accordance, inter alia, with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;
  3. Order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international legal standards, or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial, independent and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;
  4. Carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the alleged ill-treatment suffered by Mr. Steve Monjeza and Mr. Tionge Chimbalanga, in accordance with international human rights standards, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
  5. Ensure that an effective remedy, including the right to full redress with compensation, be granted to the victims concerned.

Addresses

  • The State President, Dr.Bingu wa Muntharika, Office of President and Cabinet, Fax +265 (1) 788 586
  • Minister of Justice, Professor Peter Muntharika, Fax: +265 1 788332/841, Email: justice@malawi.gov.mw
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Capital Hill, P.O. Box 30315 Lilongwe 3 Malawi, Fax. +265 1 788 482
  • Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, Capital Hill, Private Bag 384 Lilongwe 3 Malawi, Fax: +265 1 788 764, Email: sportsministry@malawi.gov.mw

Please also write to the embassies of Malawi in your respective country.

Geneva, 10 March 2010

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.


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