Malawi

Dangers of policing Malawi's 'green', off-season fishing ban

At the heart of this unusual decision by Malawi’s senior magistrates’ court lies a dramatic account of the dangers involved in trying to protect the fragile ecosystem of the country’s fish-rich Lake Chilwa. Apart from ecological concerns the court also speaks with some anxiety about the way police put their members in unnecessary danger by sending them to deal with well-armed, illegal fishing people while hopelessly outnumbered. They were provided with just a paddle boat – against the engine-powered boats used by the fishermen – and were not adequately armed.

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The dangers facing poorly armed police trying to enforce off-season fishing for Malawi’s Lake Chilwa have been graphically illustrated in a new judgment delivered by the country’s senior magistrates’ court last week.

Shock report by Malawi's ombud finds maladministration, corruption behind decision to bring in SA legal team

In a report handed down with commendable promptness, Malawi’s ombudsperson, Martha Chizuma, has found that the procurement of a team of South African lawyers to handle a crucial election appeal by the then-government of Malawi in 2020, amounted to maladministration and an abuse of power. Her shock report made a number of significant findings on this issue, with orders of tough remedial action – but also dealt with several unexpected additional findings of maladministration that had crept into official government appointment practice.

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When Malawi’s then government, under the country’s former President, Peter Mutharika, lost its initial attempt to persuade the courts that the 2019 election was valid, it launched an appeal. But who would argue the case for the government?

Judge sets new Malawi benchmark in child rape case

Against the background of a sharp and disturbing rise in the rape of children in Malawi (a problem in a number of other jurisdictions as well), a prominent high court judge has delivered a decision setting a new benchmark for sentence and judicial comment in response to such crimes. His important new judgment comes as police in Malawi have released new rape statistics showing that the number of young girls raped (or ‘defiled’ in terms of Malawi’s law) is far higher than the number of adult women raped.

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Malawi’s Judge Redson Kapindu is used to expressing controversial views on the law. As a law lecturer in South Africa, he had no hesitation in drafting insightful critiques of SA’s apex constitutional court. This was in his then capacity as law teacher at the University of Johannesburg, and as deputy director of the South African Institute for advanced constitutional, public, human right and international law.

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