Civic space is protected in law but government intimidation and over-zealous policing in Malawi impede activism and civil society organisations’ operations in practice. While respect for civic freedoms has improved since the presidency of Bingu wa Mutharika, the co-option of civil society leaders still undermines strong and independent non-government voices. Fears also exist that the independence of CSOs could be further eroded if restrictive NGO regulations are introduced, notably the draft NGO policy and the 2017 NGO(Amendment) Bill. The police have used excessive force to disperse demonstrations and impunity persists for those behind the killings of 19 protestors during mass anti-government demonstrations in July 2011.