Misa Malawi has commended President Dr Lazarus Chakwera Government for his commitment to repeal sticky sections of the laws of Malawi.
“MISA Malawi applauds the move by the Government of Malawi to repeal some sections of the Penal
Code and the Protected Flag, Emblems and Names Act in order to stop criminal offences on sedition.”
Notices from the Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda to the Malawi Parliament show that the government is expected to table the Protected Flag, Emblems and Names (Amendment).”
In the statement which Misa Malawi Chairperson Tereza Ndanga has signed says repealing of those sections are clear indication that government is serious to preserve press freedoms.
Government is expected to table the Protected Flag, Emblems and Names (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2022 which proposes the repeal of sedition offences following a notice from the Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda to Parliament.
MISA Malawi supports the development in a bid to stop criminal offences on sedition.
In a statement, MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga said administrations have often used such laws to silence and punish critical voices in the name of protecting ‘dignity and honour’ of public officials and offices.
Section 4 of the Protected Flag, Emblems and Names Act of 1967 reads: “Any person who does any act or utters any words or publishes or utters any writing calculated to or liable to insult, ridicule or to show disrespect to or with reference to the President, the National Flag, the Armorial Ensigns, the Public Seal,or any protected emblem or protected likeness, shall be liable to a fine of £1,000 and to imprisonment for two years”.
Sections 50 and 51 of the Penal Code spell out seditious intention and seditious offences by, among others, defining seditious intention as an intention “to bring into hatred and contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President, or the Government.
And MISA Malawi has been calling for the repeal of what it calls archaic and undemocratic laws as they are not only inconsistent with the current Constitutional order but are broad, vague and subject to abuse by the authorities who strongly dislike criticism or opposing views.
“We are therefore delighted to note that the government has decided to remove such laws from our statues. The move will definitely open up the civic space and ensure unhindered participation of every Malawian in the democratic discourse,” reads part of the statement.
MISA Malawi has also urged Members of Parliament to critically look at the proposed bills and ensure that freedoms of expression, opinions and media freedom are upheld and protected.