The African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), an African not-for-profit organization based in Ghana and dedicated to building the capacity of African Parliaments, has tasked lawmakers and faith leaders in Malawi to find ways to contribute to promoting human rights, especially rights that bother on the Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) at the national level in Malawi.
ACEPA, under the auspices of its partnership with the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) in collaboration with the African Parliamentarians’ Network on Human Rights (AfriPAHR), organized a roundtable meeting for MPs and Faith Leader in Lilongwe, Malawi on Wednesday, November 23, 2022.
In his presentation, the Executive Director of ACEPA, Dr. Rasheed Draman, noted that parliament, its members and faith leaders have a major role to play in advocating and creating awareness on the need for respect for the freedom of individual choices when it comes to religion or belief if Malawi is to make progress on human rights issues.

Dr Rasheed Draman,Rt Catherine Gothani Hara and Ibrahim Inusah

He took the MPs and Faith Leaders through what FoRB stands for, the common misconceptions around it, violations and justifiable limitations. Participants were tasked to each play their respective roles in promoting FoRB in Malawi.
For his part, Mr. Ibrahim Inusah, Programs Officer at ACEPA shared the results of a comparative research ACEPA conducted on FoRB challenges in Malawi and Ghana, emphasizing the almost common FoRB violations in the two countries.
Hon Halima Alima Daud, Chairperson of the Malawi Chapter of AfriPAHR and MP Dowa South East, explained to the participants the background and relationship between AfriPAHR and IPPFoRB.
AfriPAHR, she noted, is non-partisan, independent network of parliamentarians founded in 2017 in South Africa and committed to combating religious persecution and advancing freedom of religion or belief. IPPFoRB, like AfriPAHR, is an informal network of parliamentarians and legislators from around the world committed to combating religious persecution and advancing freedom of religion or belief.

ACEPA Team with Malawi MPs

The two organizations work to advance human rights as defined by Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration for Human Rights (UN-UDHR) which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
At the end of the roundtable, the participants committed themselves to working to advance FoRB issues and address related challenges in Malawi by working closely together – MPs and Faith Leaders. As a clear manifestation of their commitment, the MPs immediately set a Parliamentary Caucus on FoRB and elected interim leaders with Hon. Dr. Ephraim Kayembe as Chair and Hon. Bertha M. Ndebele as Vice Chair.
The highlight of the day was a courtesy call on the Speaker of Parliament by the ACEPA team. Rt. Hon. Catheirine Gothani Hara received the team in her office accompanied by the interim caucus leadership. She was pleased with the FoRB initiative and promised that the Parliament of Malawi will do the needful to promote FoRB and ensure peaceful co-existence among religions and beliefs in Malawi.


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