Malawi Attorney General apologises after being condemned over arrest of Journalist

Malawi Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda has apologised for the arbitrary arrest of Investigative Journalist Gregory Gondwe and confiscation of his electronic gadgets .

On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, Police in Blantyre detained Gondwe, Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) Managing Director, for about six hours over a story about the AG’s decision  give a greenlight to the Malawi Police to make a payment to a businessman who is under the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigation.

The arrest of Gondwe came after the Attorney General threatened to deal with people responsible for leaking his decision.

MISA Malawi and Chakaka-Nyirenda held a meeting in the office of Attorney General at the Capital Hill in Lilongwe on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

According to MISA, during the meeting, the Attorney General also made a commitment that the government will repeal or review some archaic laws that restrict media freedom, freedom of expression and violate right to privacy.

The laws in question include sedition laws and sections of Protected Flag, Emblems and Names Act which are usually used to punish government critics and are inconsistent with the Constitution of Malawi which guarantees freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and media freedom.

MISA Malawi delegation to the meeting comprised MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga, Vice Chairperson Mandy Pondani, National Director Aubrey Chikungwa and journalist Golden Matonga of PIJ.

After the arrest yesterday, Police released Gondwe on bail but held on to the computer and phone they confiscated overnight before returning them in the morning of Wednesday, April 6, 2022, raising Gondwe’s privacy concerns.  Section 21 of Malawi’s Constitution provides that every person shall have the right to personal privacy.

Police officers want Gondwe to disclose source of a document the platform used in the story.

“Forcing a journalist to reveal sources of their information is against the protection of legally privileged information and whistle blower protection provisions of the Access to Information (ATI) Act.

“It is unfortunate that we are retrogressing instead of defending and building our nascent democracy,” MISA said in its statement.

Gregory Gondwe released, police confiscate gadgets