President Lazarus Chakwera has urged commissioners of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) to take on the work of championing human rights by ensuring that they also practice human rights to match their language at the taxpayer funded human rights watchdog.
Chakwera said this when he swore in lawyer Chikondi Chijozi to join the seventh cohort of commissioners, filling the vacany following the death of ist chairperson Reverend Patrick Semphere.
"I can think of nothing more tragic than the idea of a Human Rights Commissioner who routinely violates the rights of his or her workers at home, or the rights of his or her subordinates and colleagues at work, or the rights of his or her vendors in the market, or the rights of his or her own children, or the rights of his or her fellow-citizens in the public square. Human rights must be practiced, not just preached," said Chakwera in his speech
The President said human rights must be fought for, not just promoted.
" It is naïve to ever assume in this world that everyone wants human rights to thrive. That is simply not so. Both history and personal experience teach us that the curve of human nature bends towards self-interest from birth, which is counter to the selflessness that the advancement of human rights demands.
"As such, our approach to the consolidation of human rights must account for those who will naturally work at cross-purposes to human rights in their quest for selfish interests," he said.
Chakwera advised the commissioners that their approach must also account for "those who may very well militantly seek to abuse the rights of others as a result of having an evil nature that takes pleasure in doing harm to others. "
He observed that advancing human rights is no walk in the park and must not be taken on by the timid and cowardly.
"The forces you have to fight off to protect human rights are formidable, often armed by vast and powerful networks with deep pockets. In the face of such forces, it is not enough to merely defend human rights, for that entails waiting for human rights to be attacked. I am saying that you must take the fight to them whatever it may cost you," he said.
President Chakwera in congratulating Commissioner Chijozi, said she is in good company with the other Commissioners, including "human rights warriors" like the Law Commissioner and the Ombudsman, "who are beacons of light in our nation."
Chakwera pledged his government's commitment to help MHRC to mainian its good repurtation on the international stage, calling on commissioner to be part if building "a new Malawi free of human rights abuses."
According to Section 130 of the Constitution, MHRC has powers of investigation and recommendation as are reasonably necessary for the effective promotion of human rights.