Malawi Law Society, Network for Older Persons' Organizations Condemn Rising Incidents of Elderly Abuse Over Witchcraft Allegations
In a statement jointly released on January 3, 2023, the MLS and MANEPO reminded the public that the Witchcraft Act does not recognize the existence of witchcraft.
Malawi: The Malawi Law Society (MLS) and the Malawi Network for Older Persons’ Organizations (MANEPO) have jointly condemned the recently reported cases of discrimination, torture, abuse, and killings of older persons in Malawi over allegations of witchcraft, writes Tionge Hara.
The organizations expressed their sadness over the killing of 72-year-old Maggie Nyengani in Opeliwa Village on January 1, 2023, and highlighted similar incidents that have occurred throughout the country.
In a statement jointly released on January 3, 2023, the MLS and MANEPO reminded the public that the Witchcraft Act does not recognize the existence of witchcraft and that it is an offence to accuse anyone of practising it.
The 2016 National Policy for Older Persons recognizes the state's duty to protect the rights of older persons in a society facing changes in traditional family values and the erosion of social support structures.
In response to these challenges, the MLS and MANEPO called on the state to revise its policies and relevant laws, including the Older Persons’ Bill, and for the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to swiftly investigate and prosecute those involved in the abuse, torture, or killing of elderly persons or any person over allegations of witchcraft.
The organizations also called on the courts to diligently process and timely adjudicate on cases involving allegations of witchcraft and to impose stricter punishments on those convicted of such crimes.
In addition, the MLS and MANEPO called on community leaders to sensitizes their communities about the rights of older persons and the unacceptability of violence against them.
The organizations also called on media houses to report responsibly and to refrain from sensationalizing cases involving the abuse of older persons.
The MLS and MANEPO stated that they stand in solidarity with the older persons of Malawi and will continue to advocate for their rights and protection.
They called on all citizens of Malawi to respect the human dignity, personal freedoms, and right to life of older persons.
Andrew Kavala, MANEPO Executive Director, and Crispin Chimwemwe Ngunde MLS Honorary Secretary, signed the statement.