Malawi

Malawi case flags growing threats to human rights, role of African Court

Almost every country in the world is experiencing a narrowing of peoples’ rights and freedoms because of government restrictions imposed in the name of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. But will these governments willingly give up their new powers as the contagion eases? And if not, where should the people of a state look for help, if their own courts uphold these infringements of fundamental rights? In Africa, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights would be the court to adjudicate serious rights issues like these.

Judgment of Supreme Court, Malawi, awarding costs against Charles Kajoloweka

Ruling by African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights on jurisdiction to hear Kajoloweka matter and staying enforcement of Malawi's order

Fix laws or face huge damages claims – judge warns Malawi lawmakers on the state of Covid-19 disaster legislation

In a long and highly unusual judgment, a judge of Malawi’s high court has shown that the country’s legislation is completely unprepared to manage the coronavirus pandemic, and without the appropriate regulations or, in some cases, even appropriate laws. The judge made these findings in a case that concerned 10 Chinese nationals visiting the country. In a series of steps by officials of Malawi’s immigration and citizenship services some were deported, while the remaining four are still in Malawi although attempts were made to send them back to China.

Read judgment

The decision delivered by Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda in this case is long, dense and in parts highly unusual in style.

In view of the significance of the judgment, for Malawi and other countries needing to make regulations to manage the coronavirus pandemic, this discussion of the judgment is longer than usual. It is divided into three parts:

1. The story of the Chinese visitors and initial argument in the case they have brought

Democracy an expensive business - Malawi court

Malawi’s judicial decision that the country’s ‘Tippex’ election be re-run, has survived its first crucial challenge. The original dispute, heard as a constitutional matter by the high court, concerned the validity of national polls held in May 2019. Earlier this month, five judges ordered that the elections be held again because of widespread irregularities including the blanking out of official records with correction fluid.

 

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There could never have been any doubt that President Peter Mutharika and Malawi's electoral commission would appeal against the high court's finding that the May 2019 elections were invalid. Far too much is at stake for them meekly to have given in and obeyed the court without any challenge.

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