The Malawi Law Commission is in the process of developing legislation that will save ex-convicts from stigmatization in different ways.
Special Law commission on the development of legislation on spent convictions has started holding consultative meetings regarding the matter. Currently Malawi does not have a legislative scheme that deals with spent convictions.
The rationale for spent conviction schemes is to give effect to the principle that persons who have been convicted of offences should not necessarily have to suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives.
Speaking during a Southern Region Consultative meeting held in Blantyre on Monday, chairperson of the Special Law Commission on the development of legislation on spent convictions, Justice Charles Mkandawire said the law is aimed at erasing the criminal history of a convict thereby removing the effect of a criminal record on the convict.
“A spent conviction generally means an expired conviction. It is a conviction without effect and any detrimental effect on the offender. Criminal record and in particular a conviction continues to haunt the person that was convicted for the rest of his or her life.
“Thus despite serving a sentence to its fullest and lawful extent, conviction records continue to punish a person by stigmatizing him or her in relation to reintegration and incorporation into society.
“With these an ex-convict therefore struggles to get employment, meaningfully engage with society or enjoy meaningful participation in the social, economic and political opportunities that life has to offer,” said Justice Mkandawire.
Justice Mkandawire said the spent convictions scheme aims to address this predicament and completion of sentence.
According to Justice Mkandawire the development of the legislation falls under criminal Justice reform which will benefit all Malawians.
The consultations of the legislation are expected to end early 2017. And the findings of the meetings will be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice to map the way forward.