A national task force comprising various government and non-State actors has endorsed a recommendation by the United Nations Periodic Review on draconian media laws that jail journalists for defamation.
The removal of criminal libel law which criminalises defamation is a long-term local media demand and the task force proposed that instead of arresting journalists found guilty of defamation, civil litigation should be pursued which can see journalists and media houses sued instead.
Sitting in Lilongwe yesterday, the task force further endorsed 12 out of 13 other recommendations for government to commit towards implementing.
They include laws on abortion, maternal health and other international conventions—all bordering on improved human rights space.
During the meeting, the task force members expressed concern about lack of political will to carry out the reforms and urged government to take the recommendation seriously.
Convernor of the task force, senior chief State advocate Pacharo Kayira, said recommendations by the task force will be taken on board when government makes its final position.
The Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter has been advocating the removal of criminal libel from the statutes for years using the Table Mountain Declaration Campaign, but the successive administrations have failed to provide political will to remove the anti-media law.