22 January 2016 – The United Nations human rights office today expressed concern over recent developments in Malawi, after the spokesperson of one of the country’s main political parties recently called for gay and lesbian people to be killed, describing them as “worse than dogs.” The spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told the regular bi-weekly press briefing in Geneva that “the statements were made earlier this month by People’s Party spokesperson Kenneth Msonda on his personal Facebook page and repeated in media interviews.” A criminal case was subsequently lodged against Mr. Msonda by two civil society organizations and he was due today to appear before the Blantyre Magistrate Court on charges of inciting others to break the law. However, the OHCHR spokesperson said that yesterday the director of public prosecutions decided to discontinue the case – underlining that the State would not prosecute Mr. Msonda.
Mr. Colville said: “We are concerned that the failure to prosecute this case sends a dangerous message that inciting others to kill gay people is legitimate and will be tolerated by the authorities – in effect encouraging violent threats and attacks on the gay and lesbian community in Malawi.”
In May 2015, Malawi accepted a recommendation under the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva to “take effective measures to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from violence, and prosecute the perpetrators of violent attacks.”
“The Government of Malawi has a responsibility, enshrined in international human rights law, to protect all individuals from hatred and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and to hold to account anyone who either engages in such violence or incites others to do so,” said Mr. Colville, concluding: “We urge the Government to meet its responsibilities in this regard.”