Freedom of Expression Tracker: Victory

MISA Malawi recently raised concern that some provisions in the Bill were retrogressive for Malawi and an issue of national concern.

“As an institution that advances press freedom in the country, MISA Malawi believes that some provisions in the Bill are open to abuse and likely to promote extreme self-censorship and fear amongst online users and should be reviewed before it  is presented in the National Assembly  for debate  and possible passage into law .

MISA Malawi cited section 28 (2) (d), (e), (f) and (g) under Part IV - Liability of Online Intermediaries and Content Editors and Protection of Online Users, as some of the sections that require review. The sections state that:

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), online public communication   may be restricted in order to:

            (d) promote human dignity and pluralism in the expression of thoughts and

 opinions;

(e) protect public order and national security;

(f) facilitate technical restrictions to conditional access to online communication

 and

(g) enhance compliance with the requirements of any other written law.

MISA Malawi stated that the sections above could easily be abused and misused for personal or political interests. The Chapter argued that the sections were broad and failed to provide a framework within which the restrictions would be applied. 

MISA also argued that ‘enhance compliance with the requirements of any other written law’ was problematic considering the dozens of archaic laws Malawi maintains in her statutes which are not in line with the country’s democratic Constitution and Malawi’s international human rights obligations.

Malawi has maintained dozens of outdated colonial laws which, among other things, criminalize free speech and negate on the constitutional guarantees on media freedom and freedom of expression. ‘Enhance compliance with the requirements of any other written law’ gives credence and effect to these laws.

 

MISA Stance:

MISA Malawi has since welcomed the call for review and more consultations on the bill.