Local groups worried about impending changes to civil society law
The Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) Board is currently reviewing the act and policy used to guide civil society operations in Malawi. The review of the policy has been met with scepticism by some organisations who feel that the review is aimed at stifling the work of NGOs in the country. While the NGO Board insists that there is nothing amiss in its review of the policy, CSOs continue to monitor the process in an attempt to identify problematic revisions.
On 23 June, a Member of Parliament led half naked people in a demonstration against the killing of albinos, a crime which occurs with relative frequency in Malawi. Controversially, the protestors demanded that people who kill albinos should face the death penalty, something which has not been implemented in Malawi since 1992. Despite the unusual format and controversial demands of the protest, demonstrators were allowed to march peacefully and present their petition to Parliament.
An Access to Information Bill is currently being considered by Malawi's Parliament. Freedom of expression advocates including the Malawi chapter of the Media Institute for Southern Africa hailed the potential of the bill to increase access to publicly held information and strengthen freedom of expression in the country. Nevertheless, concerns have been raised by local media groups and the human rights commission about the removal from a recent draft of a provision for the establishment of an Independent Public Information Commission.