From "The Times," Malawi. Brief details of the case

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From "The Times," Malawi.
Brief details of the case:
Vitus Gregory Gondwe was arrested and detained on 5th of April, 2022 for not revealing the source for the story he published on PIJ about Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda.[1] The story alleged that the Inspector General George Kainja paid a sum of K1.3 billion to businessman Zuneth Sattar for a contract that was being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). It was established that Gondwe was arbitrary arrested by the Malawi Police at the behest of Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda. [2] The police confiscated Godwe’s computers and phones( that were allegedly tampered with). Gondwe was then released after Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda apologized to PIJ over the arrest (MISA Malawi).
Rights violated?
This arbitrary arrest of Vitus Gregory Gondwe of Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) and his immediate release after pressure from both local and international human rights bodies is a perfect example of how those in power forget that we are living in an era where people dont take acts of human rights violation lightly in a country that is a state party to the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other treaty bodies that are now part and parcel of the bill of rights contained in our 1995 Malawi Constitution. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Article 9(1), states that, "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law." However, in Gregory Gondwe's arbitrary arrest, aside from the violation of this ICCPR article 9(1), we bear witness to how four of his constitutional rights in section 35, 36, and 37 were violated. These are:
Section 35 which states that " Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression."
Section 36 which states that " The press shall have the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information.
Section 37 that states that " Every person shall have the right of access to all information held by the State or any of its organs at any level of Government in so far as such information is required for the exercise of his or her rights.”[5]
In the same vein, the country’s Access to Information Act (2017) provides protection to whistleblowers for “disclosure of information which the person obtained in confidence in the course of that activity if the disclosure is of public interest”.[6]

In this case, the implementation measure of judiciability or jdicialization may apply. Judiciability says states should ensure that human rights are judiciable,that is where one's rights have been infringed he or she should seek legal action and be assisted by the court in redressing the problem accordingly.

Despite the Attorney General issued an apology on the same, but the humiliation, mental trauma Vitus Gondwe's went through during his wrongful arrest could have far reaching consequences on the his mental health. Besides, it creates an unfavourable ground for journalism as it offends the journalists' vital constitutional rights contained in the sections 35, 36 and 37 of the Republic of Malawi. As the Vienna Convention of the Laws of Treaties article 26 indicates, Malawi as a state party to the ICCPR and other human rights treaties, has an obligation to guard against human rights abuses. Thus, the Vitus Gregory Gondwe arrest by the Malawi Police Service is a colossal mistake never to be repeated in the future. That said, Mr Gondwe has all the right to seek Judiciability on his arrest and be compensated for being stripped off his human dignity and violation of his three of his conditional human rights described above.

It is currently brlieved the Attorney General is committed to repealing archaic laws such as sedition laws, sections of the Protected Glags Emblems and Names Act that impede media freedom, freedom of expression and violate the right to privacy.[3] These laws date back to colonial times and they promote government secrecy and the withholding of public information. These archaic laws punish government critics and are inconsistent with the Constitution of Malawi. There are also other pieces of legislation passed after the Malawi Constitution was adopted that criminalise outright disclosure of information to any member of the public and in some cases, criminalise disclosure without consent from some authority even if it is in good faith.[4]

Malawi a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) which protects the right to access of information in Article 9.[7]


  • [1]

  • [2]

  • [3]

  • [4] See section 143 of the Police Act (12 of 2010).

  • [5] Constitution of republic of Malawi of 2017 sec, 35,36 & 37.

  • [6] Malawi Access to Information Act 2017 Found on

  • [7] Malawi ratified the ACHPR on 17 November 1989

  • [8] Published in 2013.

  • [9] P Tlakula “Preface” African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (2013) 12

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