Malawi gets mixed rights review from U.N.

June 21, 2012 at 10:07 AM
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LILONGWE, Malawi, June 21 (UPI) -- Malawi has made significant progress with human rights, though there is a general sense that much more work is needed, a U.N. envoy said.

Nearly two dozen people died in clashes between security forces in Malawi and anti-government protesters, earning statements of concern from the U.S. and European governments.

Kang Kyung-wha, the U.N. deputy high commissioner for human rights, told delegates at the conclusion of her visit to the country that there was an overwhelming sense of optimism about the country's future. The country's president, she said, has made swift and genuine human rights reforms.

"However, much more remains to be done. Accountability remains pending for the violations committed in July last year, when 20 demonstrators were killed through the excessive use of force by security forces during mass demonstrations," the envoy said.

Malawi had set up commissions of inquiry and human rights to probe last year's violence. Kyung said she hoped investigations would lead to the prosecution of those responsible.

"Impunity for such gross violations would send the wrong message to victims, perpetrators and the wider public and undermine the rule of law," she said.

The government, meanwhile, hasn't addressed the basic grievances, such as right to health and frustration with corruption, that led to the protest in the first place, she added.

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