Ken Msonda (YouTube / Nkhani Digest)
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticised Malawi for dropping charges against a politician who recently called for the killing of lesbians and gays.
Earlier this month, Ken Msonda, spokesperson for Malawi’s former ruling People’s Party, wrote on Facebook that arresting gays and lesbians would not work and that “the best way to deal with the problem is to KILL them!”
He also called LGBT people “sons and daughters of the devil” and, echoing Robert Mugabe, said that they are “worse than dogs.”
Msonda was subsequently charged under section 124(1)(b) of the Penal Code, which makes it a criminal offence to incite others to break the law. He was due to appear before the Blantyre Magistrate Court on 22 January after a criminal case was initiated by two civil society organisations.
On Thursday, however, the Director of Public Prosecutions filed a notice before the court to discontinue the case, announcing that the State will not prosecute Msonda, who remains unrepentant. No reason has been offered for the decision.
“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,” said Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
He pointed out that 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.”
Timothy Mtambo, Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, one of the organisations that laid charges against Msonda over his remarks, told Nyasa Times, that he was disappointed that the case had been dropped.
“We wanted the courts to interpret Mr Msonda’s remarks. With the discontinuance of the case, people might think it is legal to kill gays. Right to life must be respected as enshrined in the Constitution. What Mr Msonda is saying has no basis even in the Biblical world,” Mtambo said.
Msonda’s attack on the LGBT community followed an announcement by Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu last month that the government had “imposed a moratorium” on the arrest of Malawians for having gay sex, which carries a penalty of 14 years in prison.