Malawi: Supreme Court Refuses to Suspend Anti - Ansah Protests

Protesters carry signs during a Jane Ansah solidarity march in Blantyre.
1 October 2019

The Supreme Court of Appeal has refused to grant permission for suspension of the ongoing anti-Jane Ansah protests, saying there are better ways of dealing with criminality and violence.

Justice Lovemore Chikopa delivered the ruling

The Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale sought an injunction restraining the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) from holding any demonstrations until they have financially compensated those who suffered damage to person or property during previous demonstrations.

But Justice Lovemore Chikopa, in his ruling refused to grant such an injunction against the protests.

"We will not grant them. Not because there has not been violence or criminality. Not because there is no possibility of criminality or violence.

"But because, there are in so far as the applications are premised on possible violence and criminality, better ways of dealing with violence and criminality," says Chikopa.

He said for instance the police lack of resources the solution is not to stop demonstrations, saying it is to resource the police adequately.

"It is not enough in our view to just stand up and claim lack of resources. We think anybody can do that.

"Even more than the Inspector General should have gone on to show that such want of resources was though no fault of police service and that they up to this point done all they could retrieve the situation to no avail," Chikopa said.

The Supreme Court judge said the issues raised by the Attorney General could have been raised before district commissioners or anyone acting on their behalf.

Chikopa said in case of not having been satisfied with the outcome from the district commissioners, the attorney general then could have gone to the High Court and eventually the Supreme Court.

"The fact that the Inspector General does not make reference to any meetings or discussions under Section 98 means that there were never any such interactions," said Chikopa.

Chikopa said the Republican Constitution unconditionally gives the right of the people to demonstrate, saying the executive have therefore no powers to ban it or the executive cannot use the courts to ban the protests.

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