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IGLHRC and CEDEP Commend Presidential Pardon in Malawi

(May 29, 2010, Cape Town) - Today's order for the unconditional pardon and immediate release from prison of Tionge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza by Malawian President and African Union Chairperson Bingu wa Mutharika is a welcome one. The two have been serving a sentence of 14 years imprisonment with hard labor for their convictions under the Malawi Penal Code prohibitions on "unnatural offences" (Section 153) and "indecent practices between males" (Section 156). They have been in custody since their arrest in December. President wa Mutharika made the announcement in a joint press conference in Lilongwe with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

"We commend President Mutharika for arriving at a decision that prevents two innocent people from spending years in prison without just cause," said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. "This pardon should be seen as a significant challenge to laws and proceedings that are inherently unfair. However, it should not require a presidential intervention for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Malawians to obtain justice."

"We applaud President Mutharika for this bold decision," said Gift Trapence, Executive Director of the Center for the Development of People. "We applaud President Mutharika for this bold decision," said Gift Trapence, Executive Director of the Center for the Development of People. "As Chairperson of the African Union, his actions should set a precedent for African leaders to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of all Africans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. We hope that the President now pardons all Malawians imprisoned on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, that the judiciary overturns all such convictions, and that the government ensures the constitutional rights to equality and non-discrimination for all."

Contact:

Cary Alan Johnson , Executive Director, IGLHRC
New York
Mobile: (347) 515 0330
Email: cjohnson@iglhrc.org

Chivuli Ukwimi , Health and Human Rights Officer, IGLHRC
Cape Town
Office: (27) 21 469 3700; Mobile: (27) 79 440 3938;
Email: cukwimi@iglhrc.org

Gift Trapence , Director, CEDEP
Blantyre
Mobile: (265) 888 509732
Email: gtrapence@yahoo.co.uk , directorcedep@yahoo.com

For general media inquiries, please contact:

Sam Cook , Director of Communications, IGLHRC
New York
(212) 430-6023
Email: scook@iglhrc.org

The mission of The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is advancing human rights for everyone, everywhere to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org for more information.


Reproduced with permission - "INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (IGLHRC)"

INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (IGLHRC)
www.iglhrc.org


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