Wednesday, October 26, 2011


25th October, 2011

For immediate release

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter chairperson
Anthony Kasunda is among the Malawi delegation of Civil Society leaders who on
Monday,October 24, addressed the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva,Switzerland.

Kasunda seized the opportunity to inform the UN on the serious threats that
Section 46 of the Penal Code as amended poses to Freedom of Expression and
the press as guaranteed in sections 35 and 36 of the Republic of Malawi
Constitution, respectively.

The MISA Malawi Chairperson told the committee that Section 46 of the Penal
Code is open to abuse and denies people their right to information as it instils fear in publishers thereby promoting self censorship. He said MISA Malawi Chapter considers the amendment as a deliberate attempt to weaken the role of the media as the fourth estate.

The UN committee was also briefed of the efforts by MISA Malawi and other
partners to have the section repealed. The chairperson indicated that
government has repeatedly said the amendment is an improvement of the old law and that it was good for the media. He, however, explained that MISA Malawi already listed the section as one of the archaic laws in Malawi’s statutes inconsistent with the country’s democratic dispensation.

Kasunda also capitalised on the meeting to inform the UN that at least 22
journalists were beaten and assaulted in the line of duty during the July
20-21 anti government demonstrations. He explained that since 2005, at least 10 journalists have been arrested based on archaic pieces of legislation
adding that other journalists have been arrested on flimsy charges or without

“Journalists continue to receive death threats from government
sympathisers...Media practitioners from private media are targeted for
their critical news articles on the President and his government. MISA Malawi
feels this is an attempt to muzzle the press,” Kasunda said.

He pleaded with the Committee to intervene in Malawi by engaging government
to allow the media to operate freely without fear or intimidation and for
government to repeal Section 46 of the Penal Code.

He also asked the committee to engage Malawi’s leadership to openly condemn
the threats issued to journalists.


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