Press Freedom in Malawi

Although there has been some improvement in media freedom in Malawi over the last decade, there are still many areas of concern. In 2017 the Access to Information Act was promulgated after a 12 year delay, however the law has not been fully implemented yet.

There are a number of troubling laws in existence i.e. Section 4 of the Protected Flag, Emblems and Names Act makes it an offence to insult or show disrespect to the President, whilst Section 181 of the Penal Code criminalises anyone behaving in a public place in a manner likely to disturb the peace. The latter provision has been used to suppress dissent and infringe on freedom of expression. 

In September the Malawi High Court overturned a ban on media houses hosting phone-in programs instituted by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA). The Authority claimed that discussions about the disputed election were inciting violence in the country. The Media Institute of Southern Africa challenged the ban and the Court found in its favour.

In the 2019 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders, Malawi is ranked 68 in the world, although comparatively good by regional standards, Malawi went down 4 positions from it's 2018 ranking of 64