Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Malawi to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Malawi's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Freedom of Religion Reports at www.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. Government strongly advocates for human rights and democracy at multiple levels of Malawian society and actively engages with senior officials on key issues such as media independence and sexual orientation/gender identity rights.

A primary objective in 2010 will be supporting Malawi's democracy in the wake of the presidential and parliamentary elections Malawi held last year. The ruling party's electoral victory ended an impasse in parliament, but the party's overwhelming majority poses challenges to the nation's developing democratic institutions. Further strengthening Malawi’s independent media, civil society organizations, and judiciary will be essential to establishing a stronger foundation for democracy. U.S. Government strategies focus on building capacity in these areas.

In 2010 the U.S. Government is focusing democracy and governance funding on: 1)improving Malawi's legislative framework by strengthening the process by which new laws are drafted, debated, and passed; 2) developing the capacity and independence of the judiciary; and 3) supporting civil society participation in elections and other democratic processes. Improving respect for human rights among the security forces remains a priority. In addition, the U.S. Government continues to support a professional, independent media and encourage efforts to combat exploitative child labor and human trafficking problems.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The U.S. Government engages in advocacy with the president of the country, members of the National Assembly (both government and opposition), senior officials, and civil society in support of principles and institutions of democracy. The U.S. Government is committed to supporting free, fair, and credible local government elections in 2010 and is participating in a multilateral election task force to coordinate its efforts with other diplomatic missions in Malawi. The United States plans to provide financial support targeting voter and civic education activities during the lead-up to election day as well as activities to encourage intra-party democracy and transparency. We will also begin a Legislative Strengthening Program designed to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency of parliament, as well as to enhance civil society and media capacity to provide oversight.

The mission supports anticorruption efforts through continued engagement with the Reserve Bank of Malawi, the country's police service, and the business community. The embassy also promotes political rights, judicial independence, independent media, and anticorruption efforts through the International Visitor Leadership Program, which exposes local decision-makers to U.S. culture, as well as and political and legal systems.

The U.S. Government supports better civil-military relations through military training programs that encourage professionalism and respect for human rights. Officers of Malawi’s Police Service are receiving training to promote a heightened awareness of citizens' rights and greater professionalism. The United States is promoting access to legal services for the poor by purchasing equipment and books for the Legal Aid Department of the Ministry of Justice.

The United States is promoting independent media by sponsoring a public debate in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day. The embassy is performing outreach to the Muslim community by supporting a project with local broadcaster Radio Islam to produce and broadcast weekly educational programs that promote religious and political tolerance. The ambassador will host a United States-sponsored Interfaith Dialogue Conference with representatives from Malawi's religious communities.

Through participation with government and NGOs in the Malawi Child Trafficking Network and Child Protection Working Group, the U.S. Government encourages the combating of human rights violations and trafficking in persons. The Embassy is hosting a speaker program on eliminating gender-based violence as well as regular Web chats on human rights programs to address exploitative labor, particularly child labor.

[This is a mobile copy of Malawi]