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The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has oriented members of community protection structures across 10 districts on protection of persons with albinism, persons accused of witchcraft (especially the elderly) and sexual and gender minorities.Over 200 representatives from various community structures including Community Policing Forums, Child Protection Workers, Area Development Committees, Village Development Committees, Village and Civil Protection Committees and traditional leaders, participated in the orientation sessions.The orientation sessions, which were held at Traditional Authority level in each of the 10 districts where CHRR is implementing its ‘Scaling Up Minority Rights’ project, were organized against the background of continued human rights violations on the basis of albinism, witchcraft accusations and sexual and or gender identity.
Since November 2014, an unprecedented wave of killings and other human rights abuses including abductions and robberies against people with albinism has swept through Malawi, with over 25 being killed and many others reported missing in various parts of the country.Similar attacks have occurred in neighbouring Mozambique and Tanzania. People are targeted for their body parts in the belief that they contain magical powers.The country has also witnessed a corresponding rise in killings and other human rights violations on the basis of witchcraft accusations. In 2018 alone, over 10 suspected sorcerers (mostly the elderly) were killed through mob violence.The orientation focused on the laws of Malawi in relation to the three vulnerable groups; human rights; roles and responsibilities of community protection structures and best practices in protecting the rights of vulnerable groups.
CHRR is implementing the Scaling Up Minority Rights project in partnership with the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) with financial support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy. The project is being implemented in 10 districts, namely Chikwawa, Blantyre, Mulanje, Mangochi, Machinga, Dedza, Salima, Nkhatabay, Karonga and Chitipa.
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Human Rights Defenders Coalition(HRDC) in collaboration with the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Center for Development of people (CEDEP) conducted a two days training on safety and security. The training whose objectives were to Deepen skills and advocacy strategies on safety and security in the civic space, strengthen skills and experiences of risk and risk mitigation and familiasing rights defenders on security plans development, drew a cross section of media practioners, University students and Civil Society leaders. As one way of expanding the work of activism, HRDC has incorporated HRD’s from University and college chapters which will operate across the country.
Meanwhile, four Chapters have since been established which includes Mzuzu University (MZUNI), University of Livingstonia (UNILIA), Chancellor College (CHANCO) and Malawi Assemblies of God University (MAGU).
Safety and security for Human Rights Defenders remains a major challenge to the civic space of activism. Rights Defenders have heavly been attacked by regimes for their critical advocacy. The training has since provided an insight eye opening for Rights Defenders to strategize on how best they can defend their civic space amidst security and safety challenges. HRDC has since been registerd as an Organisation. This was announced during the press brieifing that was held in Mponela along with the newly established College and University Chapters.
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As one way of advancing levels of knowledge in open contracting, the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) with funding from African Freedom Information Center (AFIC) held a two days training workshop with women entrepreneurs. The workshop, whose objective was to appreciate the levels of awareness and knolwedg on open contracting, targeted 40 women in both formal and informal sector.
Inceptionally, the training workshop centered on assessing women experiences in accessing procurement information in open contracting. These women were trained in open contracting, its advantages and the laws under public procurement and disposal of assets.
The training articulated the social-cultural, legal and gender relational factors that affect women participation in public procurement and open contracting. Business women also brainstormed recommendations on how to improve women participation in public contracting. Among the key recommendations that came out included intensive civic education for women so that they are aware of opportunities that are there for them in public contracting, capacity building of women on how to bid for government contracts and also having a data base of the women in business so that whenever there is government tender, selection can be made on the list.
On his part, Programmes Manager for CHRR, Michael Kaiyatsa, expressed excitement with the workshops outcomes. “We wish to assure participants that CHRR will continue to contribute towards the protection, promotion and consolidation of good governance by empowering rural and urban communities in Malawi to be aware of and exercise their rights in open contracting as well as maintaining a well-informed society in accessing open contracting information” said Mr Kaiyatsa.
CHRR has since been carrying a baseline research with various government and private institutions with the aim of cross-examining various levels of gender mainstreaming in relation to women participation and decision making in open contracting and government partnership. Access to information one open contracting is one of the key issues CHRR is heavly advocating for in its project.