2018 UNGA opens in New York

By Deogratias Mmana-Malawi News Agency
This year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) opened in New York on Tuesday
with President Peter Mutharika expected to deliver his statement in the afternoon of
September 25, 2018.
Mutharika will be the second world leader to deliver a statement after the official opening
of the General Debate of the 73rd UNGA on September 25.
He will speak after Guatemala and followed by Egypt according to UN page www.sdg.iisd.org.
The high level General Debate is scheduled to last for nine working days.
This year’s debate is under the theme: ‘Making the United Nations Relevant to All People:
Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable
Societies.”
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation says five
ministers and a deputy minister will form part of Mutharika’s delegation.
These include Foreign  Affairs and International Cooperation minister Emmanuel Fabiano, Minister of Gender, Children  Disability and Social Welfare Jean Kalilani, Minister of Labour Youth, Sports and Manpower  Development Francis Kasaila, Minister of Health and Population Atupele Muluzi, Minster of
Home Affairs and Internal Security Cecilia Chazama and deputy minister of Defence Everton
Chimulirenji.
Mutharika will co-host and participate in a number of high level meetings and side events during
the assembly which include meeting on global peace in honour of the centenary of the birth of
South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela; the UN private sector forum; launch of the
young people’s agenda; and He or She impact summit.
The statement signed by Fabiano says Mutharika will also speak on Malawi’s initiatives in
reducing new Tuberculosis infections; expected to deliver a statement at the high level panel on
migration and structural transformation  in Africa; another statement on what Malawi has done in
ending child marriages at the African Heads of State and Government roundtable  discussion;
and will also give insights of the initiatives Malawi is making in sensitizing the masses of the
effects of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
According to the UN page sdg.iisd.org the high level plenary meeting on global peace in honour
of Mandela will take place on September 24 while meeting on TB on September 26 and NCDs
meeting on September 27 and other meetings will take place in parallel to the opening of the
session.
Other high level meetings Mutharika is expected to attend include: Meeting of Southern Africa
Development Community Troika Heads of State and Government and Troop contributing
countries in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the UN Secretary General; UN International
Commission on Financial Global Education Opportunity and is also expected to hold bilateral
meetings with some world leaders.
“At the time when the country is experiencing rapid economic growth, it is the expectation of the
Malawi Government that the trip to New York, USA, will tap the much needed resources to
further move forward the development aspirations of Malawians,” said Fabiano in the statement.
The session is expected to end on October 5 2018.

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How Nigerian Government Killed 200 In Synagogue Church Collapse – Ex-Minister

TB Joshua
Pastor TB Joshua of Nigeria with his picture over the Collapsed Building

Former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode has accused the Nigerian Federal Government of being behind the Synagogue Church building collapse that left more than 116 persons dead on September 12, 2014.

The controversial ex-minister made the allegations in a series of tweets via his verified Twitter handle on Thursday.  According to Fani-Kayode, the  “church building was brought down by a remote controlled device which was detonated by a drone”.

He further alleged that the Federal Government acted in league with the Department of State Services (DSS), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Directorate of Military Intelligence and the Lagos State Government.

An Assistant Commissioner of Police, Alaba Haruna, on Friday, May 11 told a Lagos High Court that an aircraft flew over the building before it collapsed.

Chief Femi Fani-Kayode
Former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode

Fani-Kayode’s allegations could not be independently verified by The Herald.

Recall that President Goodluck Jonathan was in charge of the country when the incident occurred and Fani-Kayode was the Director of Media for the Jonathan 2015 Campaign Organisation.

He said, “Four years and one day ago, on September 12th 2014, 200 worshippers from all over the world were murdered at Prophet T.B. Joshua’s Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) when a church building was brought down by a remote controlled device which was detonated by a drone.

“The truth about this heinous event has been kept from the Nigerian people and there has been a massive cover-up about what really transpired which involved the Federal Government,the DSS,the NIA,Military Intelligence and the Lagos State Government.

“Worse still they have all attempted to pass the buck.This event was one of the most evil and callous acts of terror in the history of our nation and one day every single one of those behind it will be brought to justice.

“I honor those that died on that day and I commend the tremendous strength and fortitude that my friend and brother, Prophet T.B. Joshua and his SCOAN Church have shown over the last four years despite this devastating loss.

“I call on the Federal Government to seek international help and to open a new investigation on this matter with a view to bringing the real culprits to justice. May the Lord comfort the families of those that were killed, may He continue to strengthen Prophet T.B. Joshua and the SCOAN family and may He grant peace eternal to the souls of those that were so cruelly murdered on that evil day.”

SOURCE: The Herald, Nigeria – https://www.herald.ng/how-jonathans-govt-killed-200-in-synagogue-church-collapse-fani-kayode/

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWtLR7qdJQk

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Fabiano says Malawi President Peter Mutharika will leave Friday for UNGA

United Nations Day
Flag of the United Nations

Lilongwe, September 19, 2018: President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika leaves Friday for the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in the United States of America.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano, disclosed this at a press briefing Tuesday morning at Capital Hill in Lilongwe.

Fabiano said the President will be accompanied by Six Cabinet Ministers from Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare (Dr. Jean Kalilani); Health and Population (Atupele Muluzi); Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development (Francis Kasaila); Home Affairs and Internal Security (Cecilia Chazama); Defence (Everton Chimulirenji) and himself representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

He said all the six ministers will play a crucial role in attending various meetings together with the President and also in their own right representing Malawi for the benefit of the nation.

UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres, officially opened the 73rd UNGA on Tuesday. However, the General Debate, a session during which Heads of Delegation present their Governments’ views through National statements on any item before the Assembly, will be held from 25th September to 5th October, 2018.

He said the theme for this year’s General Debate is “Making the United Nations Relevant to all people: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.”

Fabiano described the 73rd UNGA as a very important meeting that is crucial to Malawi’s development aspirations.

“At a time when the country is experiencing rapid economic growth, it is the expectation of the Malawi Government that the trip to New York, USA, will tap the much-needed resources to further move forward the development aspirations for Malawi,” said Fabiano.

He added that this will be achieved through His Excellency the President’s meeting with other world leaders and development partners through a number of meetings. The UNGA 73 will also accord an opportunity to Malawi as a nation to lobby for more investors to come to Malawi and contribute to socio-economic development of the nation.

Apart from the prepared agenda of the UNGA that includes the President’s address of the General Assembly on the afternoon of 25th September, President Mutharika will also attend a number of bilateral and multilateral meetings that include the High Level Meeting on Global Peace (Nelson Mandela Peace Summit), the United Nations Private Sector Forum, Launch of the Young People’s Agenda (UNICEF), HeforShe Impact Summit, High level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Fight Against Tuberculosis, and the High Level Panel on Migration and Structural Transformation in Africa among other meetings.

The minister further disclosed that the President will co-host the UN International Commission on Financial Global Education Opportunity with former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

According to Fabiano, ‘A Leader’s statement will be issued at the end of the High-Level meeting adding that His Excellency the President as Champion on Education will utilize the opportunity to highlight the Government’s efforts in improving education in the country and seek international support in ensuring that all children are afforded an opportunity to good education and a bright future.’

Fabiano added that “every opportunity will be taken to enhance Malawi’s current international cooperation with various partners in a bid to support the country’s development efforts.

In response to media queries about the cost and full delegation list, the minister said each ministry uses own funds and comes up with their own officers to attend the UNGA depending on requirements, referring the media to respective ministries for more details.

The UNGA is one of the six principal organs of the UN, the only one in which all member nations have equal representation, and the main deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the UN. Its powers are to oversee the budget of the UN, appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General of the United Nations, receive reports from other parts of the UN and make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions and meets once every year during this

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Malawi Musician ProVoice to launch debut album ‘KNOCK IT 1966’

Malawi Music
Scheduled to release album: ProVoice

BLANTYRE, September 19, 2018: A Lilongwe based Reggae Dance hall artist, Lamack Mwenebanda AKA  ProVoice will be making a huge stride in his musical career as he drops his long awaited debut  album “KNOCK IT 1966” on Saturday at Club Infernal in Lilongwe.

ProVoice in an interview with the Malawi News Agency on Sunday said the album is a tribute to his late father who was born in 1966.

“1966 is the birth year of my late father so I have decided to honor him with my first album which I have worked on for two years.

“My album has 15 tracks plus 3 bonus tracks and has been released under the KNOCK IT music group and BIG Vision Entertainment,” he said.

He said KNOCK IT 1966 has not only featured fine artists but was also produced by the cream of Malawi producers like DJ Sley, Cuff B, Hen Hood, Don Foxxy and several others.

“I have featured Pisky, Charisma, Sangie and Shawn Ice from Jamaica. I wanted different sounds in my album because their sound and mine can create great songs,” he said.

Commenting on the recent trend whereby most local artists are shunning away from releasing albums, the reggae dancehall artist said he is eying for both local and international market.

“I did my research and my focus is not only on the Malawi Market, I have a worldwide distribution deal with a Miami based Zojak Worldwide who will distribute it,” he said, adding that the album will be available for sale on all digital platforms globally.

He therefore encouraged his fellow artists to come up with albums as they depict maturity in their musical careers.

“An album is a milestone in an artist’s career. So releasing an album marks growth and it also expands an artist’s catalogue,” he said.

KNOCK IT 1966 has Barbershop and Timudikire as some of the songs that have been pre released.

The Zojak Worldwide is a distributing company for well-known Reggae Dancehall artists like VybsKarte, Busy Signal, Popcaan and Alkaline.

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Zambia to start manufacturing ARV drugs for HIV patients

LUSAKA-(MaraviPost)-The Zambian Health Minister Dr. Chitalu Chilufya has disclosed that the number of people on anti-retroviral drugs in Lusaka has increased from 70 to 86 percent.

Dr Chilufya says government is on the right track to ensuring that there is universal access to safe drugs manufactured locally.

A multi-million dollar antiretroviral (ARV) and malaria drug-manufacturing plant has been commissioned in the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone to ease people’s access to the medicines.

Commissioning the US$9 million Mylan Pharmaceuticals Company Limited plant on Thursday evening, Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya said Government has made significant strides in fighting HIV/AIDS in the country.

“Government has started strengthening the supply chain of ARVs to enhance control of HIV/AIDS. We have increased the number of people on ARVs from 70 to 86 percent since the beginning of the `test and treat programme’,” Dr Chilufya said.

The health minister says the pharmaceutical manufacturing facility presents an opportunity for investors to offer their pharmaceutical products to neighboring countries and throughout the continent and beyond considering that Zambia is now a land linked country.

He has since stated that government through the ministry of health is on track to attain the targets of epidemic control of HIV/AIDS through strengthening local manufacturing of drugs and strengthening the local supply of ARVS.

Meanwhile United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote has called for transparency and accountability in the management of drugs and funding in the health sector as a way of attracting more investments in the sector.

And Mylan President Ravij Malik has emphasized that Mylans global HIV initiative is one of the company’s key priorities.

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Malawi former President JB left for Nigeria

By our reporter

 

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi former president Dr. Joyce Banda who is also founder of the opposition Peoples Party (PP) on Wednesday  left the country for Nigeria.

Banda left the country  through Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in the capital Lilongwe, it has been established.

According to information at hand, Banda will proceeds to United States of America (USA) for this year’s United Nation General Assembly (UNGA).

Banda is scheduled to represent PP in the forthcoming 2019 tripartite election after been elected at the party’s convention held at Robins Park last month.

The party is yet to make a decision on an electoral alliance or go sole in the forthcoming general elections.

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Malawi Diaspora Conference set for September 29th in Washington DC

Diaspora Coference
Malawi Diaspora Conference 2019 in Washington DC

The Malawi Diaspora Conference is promising to bring together Malawians living in the USA and surrounding areas with a common objective of discussing how they can contribute to the development efforts of their mother nation.

This is a follow up from the meetings Dr. Grant Kabango who serves as Deputy Governor of Economics and Director of Reserve Bank of Malawi and Ambassador Edward Y Sawerengera based in Washington DC. Led last year meeting Malawians in Dallas Texas, South Bend, Indiana and Seattle Washington.

According to the Malawi Embassy team there will be a team from MITC, Ministry of Lands and Ministry of Foreign to attend to matters on investments, land and the much dual citizenship.

Part of Malawi Government’s initiative to engage the Diaspora. One of the strategies listed in the National Diaspora Engagement Policy. Engagement Policy will assist with Diaspora mapping so that the Diaspora can  effectively get involved with affairs back home and develop a clear platform on how to assist the Diaspora when they want to assist in Malawi.

Who is organizing this?

Malawi Embassy in the USA in liaison with leaders of the Malawi Diaspora Associations in the USA thus Malawi Community in the USA, Malawi Washington Association, Malawians in Texas Organization, Malawi Washington Foundation, Mphamvu mu Umodzi, New England Association, Malawians in Seattle.

Sponsors

.FDH Bank and Reserve Bank of Malawi are sponsoring the Conference. FDH Bank will send a representative to attend to matters on banking and investing in Malawi through the Bank.

The Conference will convene on September 29th 2018 from 8.00am to 5.00pm at Africa House on 1640 Wisconsin Avenue NW, 20007. On Friday September 28th, 2018, there will be a welcome reception at the Ambassador’s Residence from 7.00pm to 8.30pm. Ambassador

How to register

If you have not yet registered you are encouraged to do so. The registration can be completed here Malawi-diaspora-conference-tickets-

Speakers include Africa Union Mission Representative, USAID Senior Diaspora Advisor, and leaders from other African countries Diaspora Associations.

This is a chance for Malawian Diaspora to come together respective of their political affiliation and have a dialogue on how they can come together and contribute to activities for Malawi in a coordinated manner.

The Diaspora is already doing a lot but the efforts need to coordinate so that Malawians can also feel and realize the importance of the Diaspora. With technology, the Diaspora do not need to go back to Malawi to assist but can do lot through online platforms

Please contact your associations in your area to see about travel arrangements as a group to the conference

Register Here 

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“Give us adequate, predictable funds for Climate Change adaptation”, UNFCCC’s Bangkok extra-ordinary session told

 

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi’s Civil Society Network for Climate Change (CISONECC) with its partners Action Aid Malawi (AAM) on Saturday, September 8, challenged the on going United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s extra-ordinary session of climate negotiations in Bangkok that must provide predictable and enough funds for adaptation programs.

The funds must cater for young people and women who are mostly affected by effects of climate change.

The two organisations want the meeting to provide practical roadmap that incorporates youth and women in the planning, implementation and monitoring of adaptation programs that tackles effects of climate change.

Addressing the news conference in the capital Lilongwe with the position paper, Julius Ng’oma, CISONECC Executive Director reminded world leaders to put much effort that empowers youth and women.

Below is the position paper issued after the press briefing;

A. Background

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is holding an extra-ordinary session of climate negotiations in Bangkok. The session is taking place from 3rd to 9th September 2018.

This is important session as the United Nations is expected to finalize the development of “Rulebook”
for implementing the Paris Agreement. The “rulebook” must be completed and agreed by parties during negotiations at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland in December 2018, so that the Paris Agreement can being implemented on schedule starting in 2020.

Malawi is one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The anticipated
detrimental impacts associated with the environmental challenge of climate change will ultimately
modify Malawi’s economies, livelihoods, health, social structure, infrastructure and natural systems.
Young people and women are mostly affected and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due
to lack of access to basic services such as health, education and they are also highly subjected to the
risk of diseases and displacement in cases of disasters such as droughts and floods. Water scarcity,
higher temperatures and an increased threat of heath-stress contribute even more to the vulnerability
of young people and women by affecting lives.
The negotiations in Bangkok, Thailand and Katowice, Poland therefore is an opportunity particularly for
young people and women in Malawi to raise their voices on key issues to ensure climate justice and
protection that their rights are protected in the new Paris Agreement rulebook and subsequent actions
be initiated at local level. This will also provide young people and women access to climate finance.
In addition, the Bangkok meeting provides a “hook” for media work, digital communications and
campaigning for interested country offices to participate in at home. This includes an international day
of climate mobilisations taking place across countries (including in Bangkok) on the 8th September, led
by 350.org.
The Malawi Government through the Environmental Affairs Department (EAD) has developed a Country
Position towards COP24. The issues highlighted in the position paper are very critical in making sure
that all parties work towards a common goal of minimizing the impacts of climate change through
implementation of the Paris Agreement. This will help address the impacts of climate change and
address issues of poverty particularly among poor youth and women. Young people and women who
are in majority and hugely affected by impacts of climate change have the potential to manage their
own challenges when empowered however government, civil society organizations and development
partners must put in place deliberate efforts to support their initiatives. Social inclusion should be a
priority to ensure that, young people and women are engaged in designing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of these plans at all level.

However young people and women have limited capacity, knowledge and skills on climate negotiation
processes and have little knowledge to appreciate what the Paris Agreement is all about. This
knowledge gap on the global climate related policies and lack of interest on climate negotiations, make
them hard to actively participate and contribute meaningfully to the global climate discussion, while
initiating local climate actions to combat and manage the impacts of climate change and also being
able to advocate for green, pro-poor climate policies, advance issues of accountability by being able to
raise, voice out their concerns and also hold leaders to account on their decisions.
Key Demands
i. Enhancing Climate Change adaptation including Agriculture
Climate change threatens our right to food and Nutrition Security and there exists opportunities for
young people to attain a Climate Resilient Malawi. Government and development partners should:
• Provide incentives for young people at grassroots and national level to identify and promote
adaptation innovation and initiatives. The incentives should ensure the fulfillment of best
innovations and recognized in our NDCs.
• Make special investments in education and training for youth in agriculture in formal and informal
education systems; particularly the Value market chain including seed grants to support youth
beyond their training.
• Facilitate linkages with National and International organizations in Agriculture innovations,
productivity and Value addition whilst recognizing the role of Indigenous Knowledge.
ii. Integrating Gender and fulfilling Climate Justice
Women, youth especially young women and girls and the poor are disproportionately affected by the
impacts of climate change due to their reliance on Natural resources and limited socio-economic capital.
• Government should make deliberate efforts to communicate to young women and youth about
gender equality to bridge the knowledge gap on climate change issues while empowering
marginalized groups in culturally appropriate ways. Youth will be engaged in the design and
communication of Climate Change.
• Government should have a special training for youths in the existing policies and opportunities
for young people in implementation at National and Local level. As such Youth will be presented
at relevant National coordinating bodies and youth based agencies will be named in the policy
Implementation plans and recognized as required.
• Youth should be engaged in tracking, monitoring and promoting accountability and transparency
to ensure that policies in Malawi are implemented
• Development partners will support the Youth movement by providing technical, financial and
administrative support to the Youth movement in Malawi and the information will be
disseminated through National Youth Network on Climate Change (NYNCC) and annual
gatherings
• Government, development partners and Civil Society Organizations to continue supporting
annual youth conferences on climate change by including specific budget lines in their
programming.
Page 3 of 4
Government should increase social protection programmes, which helps address unpaid care work,
including effective cash based programming promoting supporting women’s rights in emergencies.iii.
Access to Climate Finance
Financial support is key to implementing policies and programmes for a climate resilient Malawi. The
current existing Finance mechanisms cannot be accessed by Community Based Youth organizations or
start up initiatives.
• Government should introduce a Youth Climate basket fund: with an open policy and ease access
for young people and their respective organizations. The funds will be derived from the country’s
annual budget, development partners and from UNFCCC funding sources.
• Government should exempt tax on Green Energy products (such as solar, wind, biogas) to
enable young people to engage in and start up initiatives as well promoting government’s efforts
in Mitigation and Adaptation.
• Government relooks and addresses Tax injustice to encourage National agencies and
organizations and young people to make meaningful investments in climate adaptation and
mitigation
• Government should build and strengthen alliances to demand resilience financing ensuring
communities, particularly women and young people, have access to and control over this
iv. National Mitigation actions including Green entrepreneurship
Despite Malawi being amongst the least emitters in the world, there are existing development and
economic benefits to implementing mitigation measures such as Green Energy. The country is currently
facing serious power shortages (even though only less than 10% of the population is connected to the
power grid) which threatens investments and the situations is expected to worsen due to the
overreliance on hydro power. Government should
• Create a robust investment fund on Green energy which can specifically act as an
entrepreneurship opportunity for young people
• Put in place Incentives (including the Green Award, 15 annual Scholarships, quarterly trainings
and Six week fellowships) for young Innovators and Innovations. We have the solutions!
• The development partners should provide opportunities and resources for youth and youth
organizations as grants/revolving fund
v. An inclusive and effective National and International Policy Framework
Malawi has comprehensive National Policy frameworks for managing Climate Change but there remains
challenges in youth engagement and effective implementation.
• Government and development partners should have or support a special quarterly training
programme for young people in policy issues and advocacy
• Government should ensure youth representations in all the meetings as regards to policy
formulation, implementation and negotiations. Particularly the Malawi delegation to any Climate
Page 4 of 4
Negotiation events in a year should have a youth representation to build capacity for sustainability.
• The government must have a fully funded youth delegate for any UNFCCC negotiations annually.
• Development partners should consider funding youth delegates to the UNFCCC negotiations and other climate meetings and trainings in the region and at international level.
• The constitution to have the right to environmental health in chapter 4 of fundamental human rights.
• Youth should engage in national and international processes to influence resilience processes (promoting adaptive, absorptive and transformation) and lead transformative recovery efforts to build back.
• Government should effectively engage existing youth networks in policy implementation and tracking of progress of strategies, plans and budgets. Such platforms should be recognized in Policy implementation plans and incorporated in National, District and Local structures. Such youth networks and organizations must not be limited to government initiated platforms only. We are a larger movement!
As the youth in Malawi, we remain committed to addressing Climate Change for our future and generations to come. Our window to turn the tide on the impacts of Climate Change grows thin each passing day but we remain committed. We look forward to continued mutually beneficial partnership

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UN warns of violence as pre-electoral politicking heats up leading to next year’s general election #MalawiVotes2019

Political Violence
FILE – Demonstrators in Malawi rally in an anti-government protest as members of the country’s security forces look on, in Lilongwe, Malawi, April 27, 2018. With elections nearing, pressure on rights activists is said to have increased in the country.

In an article posted on VOA, the U.N. human rights office is warning human rights defenders and activists in Malawi that they might be under increased threats as pre-electoral politicking heats up before next year’s general election. The Elections have seen the rise of Vice President Chilima who is challenging his boss President Peter Mutharika.

According to UN monitors in the country, the run-up to next May’s presidential, parliamentary and council elections is becoming nastier and more dangerous for those trying to hold authorities in Malawi to account. The U.N. human rights office reports thugs attacked the offices of the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation in the capital Lilongwe last week.

Chilima and his wife

According to the same reports, they say the attackers viciously beat up a guard and threw a gasoline bomb at the center’s offices causing an extensive fire. Human rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell said over the past few weeks, an increasing number of human rights defenders have been intimidated and threatened.

She said one activist received death threats after issuing an anti-corruption press statement. When he went to the police, she said the police ignored his complaint and did not provide him with any protection.

And, she said, more women are being victimized.

“We are also concerned about an emerging pattern of threats and violence against women members of parliament and electoral candidates. For example, one female MP’s car was torched in Mangochi in the south of the country in August,” she said.

Throssell said the current pattern of pre-electoral violence is reminiscent of similar attacks that occurred in 2011 – a year that was marked with heightened attacks against civil society. She warned peoples’ rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are at risk.

The U.N. human rights office has demanded that government authorities investigate the threats and attacks against human rights defenders and to ensure they are able to carry out their crucial work in a safe and protected environment.

First Posted on VOA

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India court legalises gay sex in landmark ruling

In a historic decision, India’s Supreme Court has ruled that gay sex is no longer a criminal offence.
The ruling overturns a 2013 judgement that upheld a colonial-era law, known as section 377, under which gay sex is categorised as an “unnatural offence”.
The court has now ruled discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a fundamental violation of rights.
Campaigners outside the court cheered and some broke down in tears as the ruling was handed down.
Although public opinion in India’s biggest cities has been in favour of scrapping the law, there remains strong opposition among religious groups and in conservative rural communities.
But this ruling, from the top court, is the final say in the matter and represents a huge victory for India’s LGBT community.
One activist outside the court told the BBC: “I hadn’t come out to my parents until now. But today, I guess I have.”
What have the judges said?
Thursday’s decision was delivered by a five-judge bench headed by India’s outgoing chief justice Dipak Misra and was unanimous.
Reading out the judgement, he said: “Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional.”
Another judge, Indu Malhotra, said she believed “history owes an apology” to LGBT people for ostracising them.
Justice DY Chandrachud said the state had no right to control the private lives of LGBT community members and that the denial of the right to sexual orientation was the same as denying the right to privacy.
The ruling effectively allows gay sex among consenting adults in private.
What is section 377?
It is a 157-year-old colonial-era law which criminalises certain sexual acts as “unnatural offences” that are punishable by a 10-year jail term.
The law punishes, in its own words, “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.
While the statute criminalises all anal and oral sex, it has largely affected same-sex relationships.
Human rights groups say police have used the statute to harass and abuse members of the LGBT community.
Even though it was rarely invoked when it involved consenting adults, section 377 could be – and was sometimes – used as a tool for harassment. It is not surprising then that campaigners are describing the verdict as a “new dawn for personal liberty”.
But in a largely conservative India, where leaders of all religions have consistently opposed gay sex, it will still be a while before attitudes change and the community finds full acceptance.
But laws almost always play an important role in changing mindsets, and by recognising the community’s right to love, the Supreme Court has restored the dignity denied to them for a very long time.

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