Malawi

International honour for Malawi’s judges

When five of Malawi’s judges overturned that country’s presidential elections in 2019 because of 'grave irregularities', it seemed a brave and startling thing to do. Their decision led to fresh elections and then to a change in government. Now it has also caused them to win an international award, the Chatham House Prize, given to those the institute feels have made the most significant contribution to improved international relations.

It was no small thing that they did: when five Malawian judges overturned the 2019 presidential elections on account of ‘widespread, systematic and grave irregularities’ they knew the risks; on the day they delivered their judgment they came to court with an armed escort and wearing bullet-proof vests.

Announcing the award that is to be given to the judges, Dr Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House said that their ruling was ‘unprecedented in a country where past elections have been marred by irregularities, electoral fraud and violence.’

High court judge finds 'no place' for sexual offences corroboration rule in Malawi

Many women and men have long felt uncomfortable with the corroboration requirement attached to trials of sexual offences. This requirement, whether a matter of law or practice, appears increasingly unjustifiable, unconstitutional even. It is inevitably, and almost exclusively, directed against women who are the overwhelming targets of sex crimes. Malawi now appears to have joined the list of jurisdictions where the corroboration rule will be regarded with suspicion and discarded.

Read judgment

From being standard practice, the requirement that there be additional corroboration in sexual crimes is gradually losing its grip. Several African common law countries have already specifically stopped insisting on this requirement, South Africa and Namibia among them.

Sewage is ‘not a public friend’

A broken sewerage pipe in the capital of Malawi has led to a successful claim for damages under the country’s consumer protection legislation. The pipe broke but when it was not initially fixed by the authorities, sewage found its way into the pipe that supplied clean water for drinking and other household use. Consumers then formed a neighbourhood action group to monitor the quality of the drinking water, and to bring legal action for compensation.

Read judgment

To the best of my memory it has not happened before that I have had to apologise in advance for the content of a story about a court decision. This, however, is the exception proving the rule.

No one will find the content of the judgment pleasant, while the detailed complaint of the applicants is not for sensitive stomachs.

You have been warned!

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Malawi