The Facts 1. In communication no. 64/92 Krishna Achuthan appealed to the Commission on behalf of his father-in-law, Aleke Banda, a prominent political figure who at the time of the communication had been imprisoned for over 12 years without legal charge or trial. Mr Achuthan had met with two successive heads of intelligence of Malawi who said there was no case pending against Mr Banda, but that he was being held “at the pleasure of the head of state”. 2. In communications nos. 68/92 and 78/92 Amnesty International petitioned the Commission on behalf of Orton and Vera Chirwa. Orton Chirwa had been a prominent political figure in Malawi before independence, but had been living in exile in Zambia with his wife since 1964 because of differences with Malawi’s President Banda. In 1981, the Malawi security officials took them into custody and they were subsequently sentenced to death for treason at a trial in the Southern Regional Traditional Court. They claimed at this trial that they had been abducted from Zambia. They were denied legal representation. The sentences were upheld by the national traditional Appeals Court, although the Appeals Court criticised many aspects of the conduct of the trial. 3. After international protest, the sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. The Chirwas were held in almost complete solitary confinement, given extremely poor food, inadequate medical care, shackled for long periods of time within their cells and prevented from seeing each other for years. 4. In its supplemental communication consisting of a report on Malawi for March-July 1992, Amnesty International described the arrests of many office workers in 1992 because of suspicions that the equipment used in their work, such as computers and fax machines, could be used to disseminate propaganda of the prodemocracy movement. The report also described extremely poor prison conditions, including overcrowding and torture consisting of beatings and electric shocks. 5. The communication also described the detention and intimidation of Roman Catholic bishops. Trade union leaders were imprisoned, and peacefully striking workers were shot and killed by the police. Police also raided student dormitories and arrested students who were beaten The Law and tortured.

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