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Millennium Challenge Corporation signs $350 million development assistance compact with Malawi

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us-millenniumchallengecorporation-2008logo.svgIn February the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government-funded development institution, suspended an agreement with Malawi, focused on energy sector development, based in part on concerns over a new law criminalizing consensual relations between women. (See news reports here.) MCC has announced that the Compact will now move forward.

The Council for Global Equality appreciates the attention that the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the U.S. government as a whole have paid to this important human rights concern. We note that MCC has made it clear to the government of Malawi that, "Criminally punishing lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals under laws will prompt MCC to initiate the investigation required for suspension or termination of the Compact". (Read the entire press release here.) We look forward to ongoing dicussions with MCC on this matter. 

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Malawi Pardons Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza

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Reports from Malawi indicate that President Bingu wa Mutharika will pardon Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. The two were arrested after they affirmed their relationship in a traditional engagement ceremony in December. They were convicted in May of committing acts of gross indecency and initially sentenced to 14 years at hard labor. The Council welcomes the statements from  the White House and the U.S. Department of State on their release.

The case was also followed closely in the U.S. Congress, where Representatives Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced House Resolution 1335 calling on the Government of Malawi to release Tiwonge and Steven.

Both the State Department and the White House condemned the harsh and unjustified sentence, as did House Foreign Affairs Chairman Berman (D-CA) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI). Those statements can be found here.

U.S. Department of State

White House Statement

Chairman Howard Berman

Senator Russ Feingold

Senator Feingold, Chairman of the U.S. Senate's ForeignRelations Subcommittee on African Affairs, also sent a letter to the President of Malawi expressing concern at the human rights implications raised by the case.

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