n Malawi Law Journal - The Constitution and the regulation of press freedom in Malawi

Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1996-7675


Section 46 of the Penal Code, which in essence gives the Minister the power to ban publications considered to be contrary to the public interest, was enacted during the colonial era. This provision was amended in 2010 during the Bingu wa Mutharika regime. Basically, this amendment required the Minister to exercise his or her discretion reasonably. As soon as Mrs Joyce Banda came to power in April 2012, the section was repealed. This article addresses the question whether the repeal of this law will correct the mischief for which the repeal was intended, namely, preventing the infringement of the right to press freedom by reducing the discretion of the Minister to control the press. Many other provisions in our statutes still remain which either expressly or impliedly restrict the right to press freedom. Not only that, most of those provisions give too much power to the Minister to regulate press freedom. This suggests that the repeal of section 46 of the Penal Code will not guarantee full respect for the right to press freedom. If the government is serious about the problem of properly regulating press freedom, it must take a holistic approach: it must review all the provisions discussed in this article and make appropriate amendments or repeal them where necessary.

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