Freedom of expression

The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right outlined in international law. However, most societies agree there are types of expression that are not acceptable and which conflict with other human rights, such as hate speech. For this reason, governments use laws to curb freedom of expression when it conflicts with other human rights, such as the protection of the rights or reputations of others, national security, public order, public health and morals.

Unfortunately, governments, private institutions and individuals around the world can abuse such limitations, using legislation and the judicial system to unjustly control expression and quash opposing views.

This is the case in Malawi, which has a number of colonial and post-colonial laws that limit media and freedom of expression and have been, and continue to be, employed by government to suppress dissent in the country. As a result of these laws, media outlets and individuals often refrain from publishing certain information because of fears of prosecution.

The laws encouraging self-censorship include Section 181 of the Penal Code, which is always abused to limit and suppress critical views, the Official Secrets Act (1913), the Printed Publications Act (1947), the Censorship and Control of Entertainments Act (1968) as well as the Protected Flags, Emblems and Names Act.

The existence of these laws remains a threat to free speech and media freedom in Malawi. MISA Malawi therefore advocates for the repeal of these laws as one way of promoting media freedom and freedom of expression.

As part of this process, we are also lobbying Malawi’s government to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain, which calls for the abolition of insult laws.

Freedom of expression news

Malawi High Court refuses to gag newspapers in corruption probe

Malawi High Court refuses to gag newspapers in corruption probe

The High Court in Blantyre has refused to grant an injunction to businessmen Zuneth Sattar and Ashok Nair to restrain Nation Publications Limited (NPL) and Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL) from publishing stories related to the ongoing corruption probe involving the...

‘Malawi government must act on crimes against journalists’

‘Malawi government must act on crimes against journalists’

MISA Malawi joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists with a call for the government of Malawi to start investigating and prosecuting crimes against journalists and media workers. In 2013, The United...

MISA Malawi calls for media independence, professionalism

MISA Malawi calls for media independence, professionalism

MISA Malawi joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) with a call for media independence, professionalism and integrity. This year’s WPFD is being celebrated under the theme ‘Journalism without fear or favour’. The 2020 WPFD theme is a...

Malawi: Protecting media freedom and information access in 2020

Malawi: Protecting media freedom and information access in 2020

MISA Malawi shares its Way Forward recommendations for defending media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information to mark World Press Freedom Day 2020. [highlight1]MEDIA PROFESSIONALISM AND INDEPENDENCE[/highlight1] Promote media self-regulation...