Malawi High Court to rule on constitutionality of rogue and vagabond offence 

The High Court in Blantyre, has set Tuesday, January 10, 2016 as the date to determine the constitutionality of section 184(1)(c) of the Penal Code.

Victor Mhango:  CHREAA led battel for  review  of vagaband laws  

Section 184(1) (c) of the Penal Code provides that; “every person found in or upon or near any premises of any road or highway or any place adjacent thereto or in any public place at such time and under such circumstances as to lead to the conclusion that such person is there for an illegal or disorderly purpose, is deemed a rogue and vagabond.”

According to a statement issued on Friday by the Southern Africa Litigation Center (SALC) and the Center for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), a three-member branch of the High Court of Malawi will deliver the judgment and the hearing will start at 9:30 in the morning.

The statementfurther states that the applicant, Mayeso Gwanda who is a street vendor by trade was arrested on his way to sell plastic bags and charged under the section, hence his challenging the section.

The applicant’s criminal trial subsequently stayed on pending following his submission to the court that the offence he was charged with was outdated and vague which results in its arbitrary enforcement by the police.

The applicant further argued that the offence of rogue and vagabond as stated in section 184(1) (c) results in a number of rights violations.

“The applicants argued that the offence of rogue and vagabond results in a number of rights violations, including his rights to dignity, privacy, freedom from discrimination, and freedom from movement,” reads the press statement in part.

The Legal Bureau, Center for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) and Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (PASI) also joined the case as amicus curiae.

The offence of rogue and vagabond as stipulated under section 184(1)(c) of the Penal Code has been widely criticized by civil society, academics and the courts for the arbitrary manner in which it has been enforced.

However, law enforcers have backed the law as one that deters theft and criminal activities from taking place in different communities.

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7 years ago

its true we have to work hard so that we secure our poor and framely country we call

7 years ago

In a country where poverty has hitted greatly demands people to work and walk day and night. Unfortunately the spirit of discrimination has barred people from working hard. No wonder by 8 pm our cities becomes empty and dark yet we claim to fight poverty. It’s time to wake up and work any time of the hour. Hopefully the court will lender the section invalid and outdated

7 years ago

Lamulo latsankho , lanyansi , lobera , go to our neighbouring country Mozambique you will see people are free to move through out the night policemen are there to patrol. Quite contrary to what happens here its when police starts filling there pockets with corruptly money forcing and threatening innocent citizen coz of there ignorance on the actual meaning of rogue and vagabond.

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