Malawi gives in, to review bad laws against gays,media

Chiume making the announcing in Lilongwe

Malawi’s repressive laws, which resulted into a crippling donor aid freeze and saw unprecedented demonstrations in July and left 20 people dead, have formally been referred to the Law Commission for review.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Ephraim Chiume made the disclosure at a news conference in Lilongwe. Flanked by leader of the House George Chaponda, he said that this in response to public opinion and concerns raised over the laws.

“In view of the sentiments from the general public regarding certain laws and provisions of certain laws passed by the National Assembly, we are submitting the relevant laws and provisions of laws to the Law
Commission for review,” said Chiume.

The Laws listed are, section 46 of the Penal Code (CAP 7:01) which grants sweeping powers to Minister of Information to ban any publication he deems not to be in public interest.

The other one is the penal code – sections 137A, 153-156 against homosexual relations. The provisions have come under strong attack mainly from donors and minority rights activists.

The other unpopular law enacted this year to be reviewed is the Civil Procedure (Suits by or against the Government and Public Officers) dubbed as “injunctions bill” and widely speculated to have targeted
the removal of Vice President Joyce Banda.

President Mutharika’s administration has been under pressure from activist home and abroad with the donor community leading the campaign to have them repealed.

Chaponda who was Leader of the House and Minister of Justice during the passing of some of the Laws said the Government move was an indicator that the President is able to listen to the views of the public.

“The process of reviewing laws includes the Commission, the Ministry of Justice and Parliament before they are approved by the President. I asked even MP’s that they can bring amendments as private members motions but the preferred Government,” said Chaponda.