Chikondi Chijozi: A trailblazer in human rights advocacy

One of Chikondi’s notable achievements is her role as a Commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission, where she continues to advocate for the rights of vulnerable groups. Her passion and dedication to the legal protection of vulnerable people have been recognized by Dr. Edge Kanyongolo, Associate Professor of Law at the Chancellor College University of Malawi, who described her work as “exceptional and inspiring”. Chikondi’s relentless efforts have no doubt been instrumental in promoting access to justice for marginalized individuals in Malawi.

In her capacity as a human rights lawyer, Chikondi has achieved remarkable success in representing victims of sexual assault and abuse. In 2020, she successfully represented and secured compensation for 18 women and girls who were raped and sexually assaulted by the police. Her dedication to seeking justice was further demonstrated in 2021 when she secured a conviction and a 30-year imprisonment sentence for police officers who raped a girl in police custody. These landmark cases not only herald justice to the victims of intended crimes but also send a strong message against impunity and abuse of power to all perpetrators.

Interestingly, Chikondi has also been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of children. In 2020, she obtained a court order on behalf of the Rastafari children, ensuring their admission and enrollment into government schools without having to cut off their dreadlocks. Additionally, she successfully represented children in conflict with the law, advocating for an end to the detention of children in prison and police custody in Malawi. Her tireless efforts have helped protect the rights of vulnerable children and ensure their access to education and fair treatment within the criminal justice system.

Beyond Malawi, Chikondi’s impact extends to the international stage. In 2016, she played a crucial role in lobbying for the repatriation of hundreds of Ethiopian migrants who had been imprisoned for over a year. Her work with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other partners led to their release and return to their home country, restoring their freedom and dignity. Chikondi’s dedication to advocating for migrants’ rights demonstrates her unwavering commitment to justice on a global scale.

Chikondi’s exceptional work has garnered widespread praise and recognition from prominent figures in the legal field. Justice Kenan Manda, Judge of the High Court and Chairperson of the Prison Inspectorate in Malawi, commends Chikondi for her diligence and astuteness in protecting women and children’s rights in prisons, emphasizing her unparalleled commitment to access to justice. Mr. Victor Mhango, Executive Director of The Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance, describes her as an intelligent, honest, and hardworking individual who inspires others to excel in their duties.

With a career spanning nearly two decades, Chikondi has accumulated a wealth of experience and expertise. Her journey began as a Paralegal Officer with the Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), where she quickly rose through the ranks to become the Deputy Executive Director and Litigation Manager. Her extensive experience working with local communities, legal empowerment initiatives, and strategic litigation shaped her into the formidable advocate she is today.

For being a trailblazer in her field and being at the forefront of the fight for justice and equality, Chikondi ought to be celebrated for her diverse expertise and extensive experience within the criminal justice system. Her leadership skills, excellent analytical abilities, and sound judgment that enables her to navigate complex legal issues and leave an indelible mark is a highlight of an ideal lawyer.