Simultaneous injunctions have been granted by the High Courts in Blantyre and Lilongwe against a decision by the Ministry of Homeland Security to relocate refugees and asylum seekers to Dzaleka Refugees Camp.
A High Court of Malawi order made on Tuesday, April 27 says the injunction is granted pending the determination of the judicial review proceedings “or any further order of the court”.
The Ministry of Homeland Security had on April 1 issued a 2-week ultimatum for refugees and asylum seekers to return to Dzaleka Camp after many of them left the camp to engage in various forms of businesses within communities around the Camp.
The Encampment Policy however entails that refugees and asylum seekers are expected to remain within their designated camp and that those trading among them should do so within the camp.
However, reports say that some Malawians were taking the laws into their hands by forcibly executing the government order. A statement signed by Patricia Liabuba from the Ministry of Homeland Security instructs that: “nobody should attempt to take the law in his or her own hands by robbing them or causing any violence against them as they are returning to the camp”.
“Government will not tolerate any act of violence against our brothers and sisters who have already shown interest to return to the camp within the stipulated period of 14 days from the date of their notification.”
“In the meantime, all processes to ensure that they safely return to their designated camp are going on well,”
Before the injunction, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and a human rights lawyer warned government against violating refugees’ rights in relocating them to Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence said that the refugees consist individuals who have businesses and owe Malawians who supply goods to them; hence, the need to give them time to resolve such issues.