10 October 2012

Commission of enquiry concludes Malawi blogger murdered

Source: Reporters Without Borders

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(RSF/IFEX) - 10 October 2012 - The special commission created by Malawi's new president to investigate opposition blogger Robert Chasowa's death in September 2011 has concluded that he was murdered, as his family and colleagues had suspected all along.

"We hail President Joyce Banda's decision to appoint an impartial commission of enquiry into Chasowa's death and we are relieved that it has recognized its criminal nature," Reporters Without Borders said. "The scale and violence of the crackdown in Malawi in 2011 cannot be overstated. Every effort must now be made to identify and punish this murder's perpetrators and instigators. We hope that President Banda's initiative will be a source of inspiration for other African countries in combatting impunity."

A 25-year-old student who wrote blogs calling for democracy and criticizing then President Bingu wa Mutharika, Chasowa was found dead on the Polytechnic School campus on 24 September 2011, after being the target of violent threats in the preceding weeks.

The police's insistence that his death was a suicide sparked an outcry in the local media and several journalists covering the case were briefly detained.

Malawi fell 67 places in the 2011-2112 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index because of the previous president's authoritarian excesses. This was the biggest fall by any country in the world.

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