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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tell US government "Stay Strong on Malawi Human Rights!"

Malawi recently underwent Universal Periodic Review, a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations. This mechanism is an opportunity for each member state of the United Nations to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.
The United States issued a statement with regards to Malawi's human rights work.
The United States recommends that Malawi decriminalize homosexual activity. "We view the decriminalization of homosexuality as integral to the continued protection of universal human rights in Malawi. It is also crucial to the urgent need to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Malawi. Although HIV/AIDS affects people irrespective of sexual orientation, criminalizing homosexuality may prevent individuals seeking information about or treatment for HIV/AIDS if they are afraid it may require them to reveal their sexual orientation. We remain disturbed by harassment and persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever it occurs."
Any series of stakeholders are allowed to submit documentation supporting or refuting the human rights claims of a member state under review. Amnesty International made several recommendations to the government of Malawi regarding human rights. Specifically, Amnesty International recommends the ratification of the outstanding core international human rights treaties, in particular:
  • The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
  • The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;
  • The Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity, without making prohibited reservations, and to implement it in national law in accordance with conventional and customary international law.
The Universal Periodic Review "has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world." ? Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General. Most recently, the Malawian parliament passed a bill that would decriminalize sex between women in addition to the legislation that already prohibits sex between men. Now is the time to put an end to this discrimination. Fulfill the promise of human rights realization in Malawi!

petition text -

Message recipient - Susan Rice - US Representative to the United Nations

Subject - Solidarity with UPR recommendations

I want to offer my commendations to the United State’s delegation at the 9th session of the Universal Period Review.  I was very pleased to read the statement the delegation issued for Malawi’s review and your encouragement of the Malawi government to decriminalize homosexuality.  As a supporter of human rights, I believe that the decriminalization of homosexuality is crucial to the achievement of universal human rights and I urge you to continue to pressure not only Malawi to change this harmful law, but all nations that criminalize homosexuality.    To this end, it is extremely important that you continue to pressure Malawi in light of the most recent parliamentary bill to criminalize homosexuality between women in Malawi.


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