EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 36/30/93
19 July 1993
Further information on UA 39/93 (AFR 36/25/93, 28 April 1993, AFR 36/14/93,
15 February 1993) - Fear of ill-treatment/Legal concern
MALAWI:Shyley Kondowe )
Robert Khembo ) opposition activists
John Banda )
Robert Khembo was released without charge shortly after the referendum on 14
June 1993 held to decide whether or not to retain the existing one-party system.
He had been arrested on his return from exile in South Africa, with Shyley
Kondowe and John Banda. All three are officials of the opposition Malawi
Democratic Party (MDP). They had been released on bail in late march/early
April 1993 but Robert Khembo was re-arrested shortly after on account of press
interviews he gave after his release criticising Life President Dr Kamuzu H.
All three have had their charges dropped following the recent amnesty for all
exiles which was declared by the government. No explanation was given for
Robert Khembo's arrest or his prolonged and illegal detention without charge
for several weeks. No information is known about his treatment in detention.
The referendum campaign ended with a two-third's majority vote for a multi-party
system. The final vote was declared fair by international observers, despite
massive intimidation during the campaigning by government supporters in the
Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the para-military Malawi Youth League and the
police and security forces. The government had persistently rejected a United
Nations advisory team's recommendation on the referendum - to release political
prisoners, allow refugees and exiles to return safely, and at least suspend
the laws restricting basic freedoms. On 29 June the Malawi parliament,
restricted to the MCP for 29 years, changed the constitution to allow opposition
parties. No date has yet been set for multiparty elections.
Despite the amnesty for exiles declared by the government few of the thousands
of refugees who had fled Malawi since 1964 are likely to return until there
are clear and permanent changes to the laws, judicial system and political
system to protect human rights.
No further action is requested from the Urgent Action Network. Thank you to
all those who sent appeals on Robert Khembo's behalf.