July 20 inquiry report is out, Police officers face arrest
Malawi President Joyce Banda has vowed to prosecute or hand administrative action on those found at fault by an inquiry on the July 20, 2011 (July 20) mass protests that led to 20 deaths.
Presenting the report findings of the July 20 findings in Blantyre on Thursday, President Banda said has asked the Attorney General to recommend on the way forward.
“I have asked the Attorney General to carefully study the report and advise me on the whether the roles played by various individuals revealed criminal conduct requiring prosecution or misconduct necessitating other administrative action,” said President Banda adding;
“I, however, wish to assure Malawians that there will be no impunity for those found to have committed offences or to have done events that led to the needless loss of precious life and misconduct.”
The report faults the Malawi Police Service for using excessive force and has called for the investigation of some police officers who acted illegally.
“The amount of live ammunition used was beyond necessity and resulted into deaths and injuries that could have been avoided. Such use of excessive force is not in tandem with the laws of Malawi and applicable international law,” reads the report in part.
The report also faults a mid-night injunction which one Chiza Mkandawire obtained to stop people from going to the streets.
“Efforts by the police to enforce the injunction led to confrontations with demonstrators and the confrontation degenerated into the public disorder. Further, the injunction diverted the attention of organisers to challenging it instead of controlling the crowd,” says the report.
The media also has its fair share of the problem on the events of July 20.
“The Commission established that some media houses conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner and that contributed to the public disorder. For instance, the State Broadcaster failed to broadcast accurate and balanced information to the public,
“Secondly, private media houses carried live coverage of the looting, arson and the consequent deaths and injuries as they unfolded, which in the opinion of the Commission incited violence in other parts of the country.”
The report further says political intolerance and intimidation also contributed to the events of 7/20.
“It was noted that the days prior to the July 20, 2011 demonstrations were characterised by statements and actions of intimidation by politicians and sympathisers of political parties which further fuelled the tensions.”
The inquiry was instituted by late President Bingu wa Mutharika who at the time people were demonstrating in the streets he was controversially addressing a public lecture on the economy at State House.
The inquiry was one of the demands by Malawi key donors as a condition to resumption of grants and aid to the country.