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.