Youth And Society (YAS) has called upon the government to be transparent and accountable when it is handling refugee issues even when it comes to deportation of individuals suspected of committing crimes in their countries of origin.
Speaking during the orientation meeting with the Civil Society organizations (CSO’s) and the media in Lilongwe, YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka said government must act within the law inorder to avoid back door extradition of refugees in this country and laws have to be respected and they believe government has obligation to respect the rights of those suspected committing a crime in their country of origin and the rights of those that have been relocated to Mdzaleka camp.
Kajoloweka said :” the whole refugees relocation exercises has resulted into cases of police officers extorting from the victim’s, stealing from the victims and cases of sexual violence that has been registered.
“People have lost their properties because of forced relocation exercises and there is no justification whatsoever that the government has started this violation, we hope individuals behind this violation should be held accountable and the government has an obligation to ensure that it respects and protects the rights of refugees in this country.”
He further said that government decisions must be within the law and they must also pay attention to the human right obligation that Malawi has to people as well as international law.
Kajoloweka also said some of the sentiments made by the government must be supported by evidence otherwise they become empty rhetoric hence some of the sentiments that come from the government through Minister of Homeland security could be regarded as insunuating xenophobic attacks or violence against foreigners.
He added that it is only assumption that there is the warlords from Rwanda pretending to be refugees because government does not promise any evidence saying the fear is that lack of transparency from government is also a recipe for the violation of rights of the people suspected committed crimes in their countries of origin.
On his remarks human rights activist lawyer Alexisus Kamangira said the rule of law should take order where the people have broken the law of the nation, should be treated according to the law saying what they have seen is the opposite where the government is making allegations that there are people in this country that are illegal immigrants and the same government is treating these people illegally.
He said:” We have alot of examples where people have been abused, how women have been raped there are so many things. As we speak we are talking about Mdzaleka which is a camp that is refugees are supposed to be taken there, but we know that Mdzaleka it supposed to take 12000 people but as we speak the information that we have is that there are 51000 people, these are not animals there are human beings.
“And so what we need as a nation is to be honest on what is going on, the refugee issue should not be taken as a scapegoat to the problems that these nation are facing, we need to deal with our problems but not put the blame on people that are innocent, people that are running to their countries to survive and live.”
According to YAS they brought together CSO’S and the Media after government conducted relocation exercise national wide for the past two months which affects most of the refugees in this country and there is on going conservation on refugees situation which they believe that they can only be informed through engagement with the government if the CSO’s and the Media have full understanding of legal and policy framework or landscape of the country as well as the human rights implications of the actions of the government.
The Youth And Society, the CSO’s and the Media are planning to engage the government effectively to map the way forward concerning the refugees issue in this country in a due course.
Reported by Alex Splendor Ngulube.