President Bingu wa Mutharika has bowed down to pressure by ordering that Malawi Law Commission to review some of the repressive laws including a ban on homosexual acts, Justice Minister Ephraim Chiume has said.
Chiume said provisions of the penal code concerning “indecent practices and unnatural acts” would be reviewed.
“In view of the sentiments from the general public and in response to public opinion regarding certain laws, the government wishes to announce to the Malawi nation that it is submitting the relevant laws and provisions of laws to the Law Commission for review,” he said.
This comes after Nyasa Times reported that the Unites States Government want to use foreign aid to encourage countries to decriminalise homosexuality.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron expressed a similar view in October.
Last year a gay couple was jailed 14 years after they held an engangement but they were goven presidential pardon following international pressure.
Chiume saidat a news conference in Lilongwe which he jointly addressed with leader of government in parliament Dr George Chaponda, that the laws will include Section 46 of the penal code that infringe upon media freedom.
Mutharika, who had flown to Tanzania on Thursday, has been under fire from civil society and the nation at large including the donor community due to poor governance and human rights abuse by enacting draconian laws that glossily infringe on people’s freedom despite Malawi being a democratic country.
“The President has ordered the law commission to review some of the laws that were enacted recently including Section 46 of the penal code and Local Courts Act in view of concerns from the general public…” reads the statement in part the release.
However, the press release did not indicate time frame for the review and when it will commence.
Other laws that have ignited a public outcry are the Local Courts Act, which empowered traditional leaders to administer justice beyond their jurisdiction; the Injunctions Bill which restrains Malawians from getting temporary reprieve from courts against government; and the Local Government Act, which empowers the President to call for Local Government Elections “in consultation with the Malawi Electoral Commission”.
Several donors including US, Britain, German and other countries suspended their aid to Malawi in quest to force Mutharika review what has been described as draconian laws.
One of the well known lawyers in the country, who is also Member of Parliament, Henry Duncan Phoya, was fired from his party DPP after raising concerns over the laws Mutharika’s administration was enacting and was immediately removed as chairperson for Parliamentary law committee Phoya retorted that the executive was misleading the nation that the executive was not responsible once laws are passed but the legislature.
“It is completely wrong to say only the legislature is responsible for repealing laws. It is up to government to repeal laws by bringing them before Parliament. Parliament cannot just bring laws to the House for repealing,”Phoya said.
Chaponda, who was Leader of the House and Minister of Justice during the passing of some of the repressive Laws , said the Government move was an indicator that the President is able to listen to the views of the public.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :