Jurists Protest Removal of Three Judges by Parliament

The ICJ has written to President Bakili Muluzi of the Republic of Malawi expressing grave concern about Parliament’s recommendation for removal of three high court judges, for alleged misconduct.

The impeachment process is in contravention to an earlier ruling by another judge prohibiting Parliament from going forth with removal.

The ICJ is dismayed that the three judges, George Chimasula Phiri, Dunstain Mwaungulu and Ancaclet Chipeta, did not have a hearing on their case and were not given a chance to present a defense. This is a cause for deep concern as it indicates disrespect for national and international standards on the removal of judges. In Malawi, the Constitution requires that the President consult with the Judicial Service Commission for removal of a judge on the grounds of incompetence or misbehaviour. Rather than wait for the President to consult the Judicial Service Commission, Parliament has unilaterally decided to recommend removal of judges it does not favor.

This action flies in the face of the 1994 Constitution of Malawi, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary which, with one voice, recognize the value of an independent judiciary as necessary to uphold the Rule of Law. International standards squarely place upon governments the burden of protecting the judiciary from interference, threats and harassment. According to the African Charter which Malawi ratified in 1989, “States parties to the present Charter shall have the duty to guarantee the independence of the Courts…” (Article 26)

The ICJ strongly urges the authorities of Malawi to uphold their duty to protect the independence of the judiciary and not allow the political branches of government to interfere in its affairs. Simply removing judges because of their unfavourable rulings and on unfounded charges of misconduct leads down a slippery slope to further erosion of human rights and the Rule of Law.

Note: For further information, please contact Linda Besharaty-Movaed or +41(0)22 979-38-09.

NewsWeb stories