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Malawi Attorney General apologises on journalist Gregory Gondwe’s detention

Malawi's Attorney General
6 Apr, 2022
The Attorney General has committed to repeal bad laws.

The Malawi Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda has apologised for the arbitrary detention and confiscation of electronic gadgets of Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) Managing Director Gregory Gondwe.

On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, Police in Blantyre detained Gondwe for about six hours over a story about the AG’s decision on government’s contracts with businessman Zuneth Sattar, who is under the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigation. PIJ published the story on March 30, 2022

MISA Malawi and Chakaka-Nyirenda held a meeting in the office of Attorney General at the Capital Hill in Lilongwe on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

During the meeting, the Attorney General also made a commitment that the government will repeal or review some archaic laws that restrict media freedom, freedom of expression and violate right to privacy.

The laws in question include sedition laws and sections of Protected Flag, Emblems and Names Act which are usually used to punish government critics and are inconsistent with the Constitution of Malawi which guarantees freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and media freedom.

MISA Malawi delegation to the meeting comprised MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga, Vice Chairperson Mandy Pondani, National Director Aubrey Chikungwa and journalist Golden Matonga of PIJ.

Police released Gondwe on bail but held on to the computer and phone they confiscated overnight before returning them in the morning of Wednesday, April 6, 2022, raising Gondwe’s privacy concerns.

Section 21 of Malawi’s Constitution provides that every person shall have the right to personal privacy.

Police officers are forcing Gondwe to disclose source of a document the platform used in the story.

Forcing a journalist to reveal sources of their information is against the protection of legally privileged information and whistle blower protection provisions of the Access to Information (ATI) Act.

It is unfortunate that we are retrogressing instead of defending and building our nascent democracy.

Media contacts

MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga
+265 999 247 911 or email teresa.temweka@gmail.com
MISA Malawi National Director Aubrey Chikungwa
+265 999 327 311 or email info@misamalawi.org

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1992. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

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/ MISA on Twitter

We are clinging to old laws. The colonialists have moved on from those laws & yet we are here fighting to review them. We are still stuck in 1957. We need to review - Justice Mandala Mambulasa, High Court Judge, during our engagement with MPs.
@AfricaNetRights https://t.co/4soZ2zGcpk
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Malawians must be free to express themselves. Any law that is contradicting the Constitution must fall. We will repeal and review undemocratic laws - Aboo Naliwa, Chairperson, Parliamentary Committee on Media & Communication.
@NamMediaTrust @AfricaNetRights https://t.co/3Wv2O9SPIo
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Today, @misamalawi engaged Parliamentary Committee on Media & Communication on issues of #FreeSpeech in #Malawi. @misamalawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga asked the legislators to support review of #CyberSecurity law which limits online expression.
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