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NZ MPs condemn Malawi human rights breaches

Fri 21 May 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga1 Labour's Rainbow members of Parliament have joined the growing chorus of international criticism over the jailing of two Malawi men for fourteen years each after being found guilty of sodomy and indecency earlier this week. The MPs have called on Malawi to honour its human rights obligations,and the New Zealand government to register an immediate protest as other nations such as Britain have done. "The New Zealand Government should follow the example of other Commonwealth nations, and register an immediate protest with the Malawi authorities at the sentence imposed on Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga", Labour's Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Hon Chris Carter, and Associate Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Grant Robertson MP, said today.  Labour's spokesperson on Trade, Hon Maryan Street, agreed.  "I call on Foreign Minister Murray McCully to do the right thing", she said.  "Human rights breaches in another Commonwealth nation should be of major concern to New Zealand, and we should do all in our power to see that they are remedied". "Malawi is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).  Articles 2(1) (guaranteeing equal protection before the law), article 17 (guaranteeing the right to privacy and a family life) and article 26 (guaranteeing non-discrimination) bind Malawi.  They render the sentence, and sections 153 and 156 of the Malawi Criminal Code under which it was levied, invalid under international law", said Labour's Associate Justice Spokesperson Charles Chauvel. "What has happened to Mr Monjeza and Mr Chimbalanga is horrific. The sentence needs to be suspended immediately, and Malawi needs to review its criminal code to make it consistent with international law", the Labour Rainbow MPs said. Gay Greens MP Kevin Hague says the Malawi couple's situation is "disgusting and appalling." He is working to find "some official channel" to bring pressure to bear on Malawi. Gay National MP Chris Finlayson cannot make a public comment as he is constrained by being a Minister of the Crown, a contact in his parliamentary office says. Meanwhile a Christian religious leader in Malawi has publicly stated that the two gay men "got what they deserved."    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 21st May 2010 - 1:24pm

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