UA 196/92 - Malawi: legal concern / fear of torture: Egbert Chiwambo, Ismael Khani, Winfrey Yonam Mphande, Charles Kabubi Mkandawire
EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 36/25/92
Please bring this action to the attention of the person in your section responsible
for outreach work as it is felt that appeals from academics and organizations of
bank employees (as appropriate) may be particularly effective.
UA 196/92 Legal concern/fear of torture 12 June 1992
MALAWI: Egbert CHIWAMBO, polytechnic lecturer
Ismael KHANI, businessperson
Winfrey Yonam MPHANDE, bank employee
Charles Kabubi MKANDAWIRE, employee of Marie Stopes
International (birth control organization)
The four people named above are among dozens of suspected supporters of the multi-party
movement in Malawi who are reported to have been arrested over the past month. Reports
suggest that people have been arrested in workplaces where it is suspected that
"subversive" literature has been photocopied and circulated, including the National
Bank of Malawi and the Electricity Supply Commission. Others are reported to have
been arrested after house-to-house searches.
Egbert Chiwambo, a lecturer at Blantyre Polytechnic, was arrested outside the senior
common room at the college on 6 May 1992, at the time of violent disturbances in
the city. He is reported to have been beaten by police at the time of his arrest.
Ismael Khani, a suspected supporter of the multi-party movement, was arrested at
the Mzuzu Club in northern Malawi on 10 May. Winfrey Mphande was arrested in Blantyre
on 22 May. He was one of 22 employees of the National Bank of Malawi arrested at
about the same time, possibly because he was alleged to have a copy of a pastoral
letter issued by the country's Roman Catholic bishops in March 1992, criticizing
the government's human rights record. Charles Mkandawire was arrested at his home
in Blantyre on about 22 May. The present whereabouts of the four are not known,
although the three arrested in Blantyre may be held at Chichiri Prison in the city.
None of them is believed to have been charged.
In the past three months there has been an unprecedented emergence of public criticism
of the Malawian Government, beginning with the publication of a pastoral letter by
the country's Roman Catholic bishops in early March. However, growing opposition
from students, industrial workers and others has been met with repression. Protesters
have been shot dead by police and many suspected government opponents have been
detained. There are unconfirmed reports that at least five of those detained have
died in custody as a result of torture.
Indefinite administrative detention without charge is permitted under the 1965
Preservation of Public Security Regulations. It is not clear whether the four named
above are being held on this basis or not.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/airmail letters:
- seeking information about the whereabouts and legal basis for the imprisonment
of Egbert Chiwambo, Ismael Khani, Winfrey Mphande and Charles Mkandawire;
- seeking assurances that they are being properly treated and have access to visits
from their families, as well as lawyers and medical practitioners of their choice;
Page 2 of UA 196/92
- calling for them to be released unless they are to be charged with a recognizably
criminal offence and brought to trial promptly and fairly.
1) H E The Life-President Ngwazi Dr H. Kamuzu Banda Salutation: Your Excellency
Office of the President and Cabinet
Telegrams: Life-President Banda Lilongwe, Malawi
Telexes: 44389 PRES MI; 44766 JUSTICE MI; 44113 EXTERNAL MI
Faxes: + 265 731878
2) Hon. J Z U Tembo Salutation: Dear Minister
Minister of State in the Office of the President
Telegrams: Minister of State Tembo, Lilongwe, Malawi
3) Mr MacWilliam Lunguzi Salutation: Dear Sir
Inspector-General of Police
Telegrams: Inspector-General of Police Lunguzi, Lilongwe, Malawi
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Malawi Law Society
PO Box 1712
University of Malawi (Blantyre Polytechnic)
Private Bag 303
National Bank of Malawi
PO Box 945
and to diplomatic representatives of Malawi in your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your
section office, if sending appeals after 24 July 1992.