The High Court in Blantyre has declared the rogue and vagabond law unconstitutional, meaning that people will not be arrested for walking at night.
The development follows a challenge on the constitutionality of rogue and vagabond by vendor Mayeso Gwanda.
In their ruling, Judges Sylvester Kalembera, Michael Mtambo, and Zione Ntaba said section 184 subsection 1C has been declared unconstitutional arguing that it reflected discrimination in the country.
In his conclusion for the ruling, Judge Kalembera argued that the applicant was arrested without a warrant and the police had no suspicion on criminal activity.
On her part, Judge Ntaba suggested for the review of the law arguing that the legislation helped in reducing crime in Malawi.
Speaking in an interview with Malawi24, lawyer for the applicant Mandala Mambulasa said the declaration does not mean that the public is free to break the law.
“The court went on that urging the public they should not interpret that they are free to do crime as the police have other measures in handling crime,” said Mambulasa.
The vendor Gwanda challenged the constitutionality of the law after he was arrested in March 2015 while walking in Limbe.
State prosecutors then told the court that Gwanda violated section 184 of the penal code which provides that “every person found in or upon or near any premises of in any road or highway or any place adjacent thereto or in any public place at such time and under such circumstances as to lead to the conclusion that such person is there for an illegal or disorderly purpose, is deemed a rogue and vagabond.”
However, the applicant argued that rogue and vagabond violates human rights, including his right to dignity and privacy, freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment, freedom and security of person, freedom from discrimination, and freedom of movement.
The Legal Aid Bureau, Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), and Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (PASI) joined the case as amicus curiae. PASI submitted that the offence violates the right of access to justice and the rights of arrested persons.