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Malawi, May 2015: Universal Periodic Review (UPR): Recommendations for children

(c) 2012 Anthony Asael - Art in All of Us
© 2012 Anthony Asael - Art in All of Us

May 2015, LILONGWE, Malawi – Malawi’s performance on human rights has been reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is a peer review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council, examining the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States. On 5 May 2015, the UPR examined Malawi’s human rights obligations and commitments.

74 Member States participated in the dialogue and gave their recommendations to the Malawian delegation, which was headed by Minister of Justice, Honourable Samuel Tembenu. Malawi has accepted 132 recommendations and rejected 41 recommendations. Several of the accepted recommendations include important steps towards a brighter future for children.

Education gives children the skills and knowledge that qualify them to take part in decisions that will bring advantages to themselves, their family and their community. Especially for girls, many obstacles are impeding educational success. Only 27 per cent of girls in Malawi survive to standard 8. Malawi supported the recommendation to advance equal education and employment opportunities for women and girls, and also agreed to recommendations on ending child marriages and tackling violence, which are key barriers to education.

Malawi President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has already approved the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act, which raises the legal age to get married to from 16 to 18. In the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), many countries recommended Malawi to ensure the implementation of the bill and the prevention of child marriage through a comprehensive national action plan. Investigation and prosecution of violence against women and girls should be part of this national action plan.

Malawi accepted the recommendation to continue working on the implementation of a national plan to end violence against children and youth. More recommendations focused specifically on addressing and preventing violence against women and girls, and were equally accepted by Malawi. The recently published Violence Against Children and Young Women Survey clearly shows that violence is a problem that is widespread: 2 out of 3 Malawians experience violence during childhood, and 1 in 5 girls were sexually abused before the age of 18. All children have the right to live free from violence, and the recommendations from the UPR are timely measure to ensure this right is realised. 

UNICEF Malawi/2015/Carmel
© UNICEF Malawi/2015
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) takes place at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Malawi also agreed to take concrete measures to ensure that the Anti-Human Trafficking Act is effectively implemented and that people with albinism are provided equal protection by the law. People with albinism in Malawi have recently been victims of violent attacks, particularly targeting children. As a result, many people with albinism are living in abject fear. Some no longer dare to go outside, and children with albinism have stopped attending school. Four recommendations to implement the Trafficking in Persons Act and four recommendations to promote and protect the rights of persons with Albinism were accepted.

A final recommendation that was supported by Malawi was to ensure the proper registration of all newborns in order to ensure recognition of their legal personality. Whether the newborn is stillborn or alive, every single one should be recognised. Measuring gives more information to learn and improve the care of newborns, and registering children’s birth is essential to protecting their rights. Birth certificates prove children’s age and can help protect them from risks like child marriage, child labour and trafficking. 




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