Becoming Secretary of State for International Development is indeed a weighty responsibility. You and I have both seen for ourselves the difference that well spent aid can make to the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.
I too am deeply dismayed by the conviction of Mr Monjeza and Mr Chimbalanga.
The government of Malawi has signed up to international treaties on human rights. Malawi’s constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination against any of its citizens. I – and the British government – strongly believe that human rights must apply to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And respect for human rights is one of the key principles underlining the UK’s diplomatic and aid partnership with Malawi.
But we should beware appeals for us to make aid a political weapon. Malawi is a desperately poor country, where about 40% of the people live on less than 34p a day. Britain’s aid plays a vital role in reducing this poverty.
We must not let down the people of Malawi. Rest assured, we, and our major international partners, will make urgent representations to the government of Malawi to review its laws to ensure it meets its commitments to human rights.
And this conviction will remain firmly in our minds when we negotiate the way we deliver our aid in future.
Andrew Mitchell MP
Secretary of State for International Development
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Andrew Mitchell Replies...
Yesterday, I wrote an Open Letter to Andrew Mitchell, the new Secretary of State for International Development, which you can read HERE. Andrew is in Afghanistan but has still found time to reply.