Launch of Parliamentary Caucus on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) In Malawi (Falls under IPPFoRB)

ACEPA, with support from its partners – the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB), the Freedom of Religion or Belief Leadership Network (FoRBLN), and the African Parliamentarians Network for Human Rights (AfriPAHR) organised the launch of the Parliamentary Caucus on FoRB in Lilongwe, Malawi on April 12th, 2023. Present at the launch were core members of the parliamentary caucus on FoRB

In his welcome remarks, the Chair of Malawi FoRB Caucus, Hon. Dr. Ephraim Abel Kayembe, noted that the caucus intends to take an inclusive approach of FORB issues in Malawi so that, it can be entrenched in legislation. He said the caucus will work to bring on board all majority and minority religions to promote peace, harmony, and respect for the religious and human rights of Malawians. The membership will also expand beyond the core members present as this will help reach out to people at the grassroots. 

 

The Executive Director of ACEPA, Dr. Rasheed Draman, in his welcome remarks noted that ACEPA and its partners firmly believe that respect for freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental prerequisite for the advancement of peace and stability in the world.  The right of every citizen to practice or not to practice any religion or belief is at the heart of democracy.  It is the foundation of our shared humanity. These beliefs, he noted, are the driving force behind the efforts of ACEPA and its partners to engage with Parliaments, faith leaders, and Civil Society Organizations around the world. He observed that what was witnessed today was remarkable because Malawi is the third country to launch its Parliamentary caucus on FORB after The Gambia and Sierra Leone. This feat according to Dr. Draman, is a testimony of religious tolerance in Malawi and that, respect for human rights is a key indicator of any country’s democratic credentials.  He assured members of the Caucus gathered at the launch that ACEPA and its partners will continue to travel with them on this journey of nurturing and maintaining religious and belief tolerance in Malawi. He also extended his sincere thanks to the Rt. Hon. Speaker for allowing the launch to take place, and hope that membership will be broadened and owned by the caucus.

 

The Deputy Minister and MP for Dowa South East, Hon. Halima Alima Daud was elated that, members of the caucus responded to participate in the launch and that, this shows their level of commitment and responsibility to this noble course. Hon. Halima thanked IPPFORB and ACEPA for their continued support of the work of the caucus. 

Dr. Draman gave a brief presentation on the background of FoRB and Caucus Objectives. He reiterated that, article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the fundamental principle underpinning the work of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and that all African countries are signatories to this article and entreated members of the caucus to work in guarding this in alienable rights of its citizens especially, at the grassroots. Dr. Draman noted that, much as members of the caucus promote issues of FoRB, there are nonetheless limitations, violations, and misconceptions about FoRB and advised members to be wary and take note.

A picture of some members of Parliament in Malawi together with the team from ACEPA

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