Balancing Freedom of Expression And The Right To Reputation Under The Laws Of Malawi
Free speech and reputation occasionally come into conflict which requires balancing. Although the 1994 Malawi Constitution has strong provisions on free speech, nevertheless it does not have a provision on reputation or a specific limitation clause. At the same time, although the Constitution promotes free speech, there are several statutory provisions in Malawi which are not in accord with the constitutional provisions on free speech and unjustifiably limit free speech. This research argues that the lack of provision on the right to reputation and a specific limitation clause to free speech in the Constitution of Malawi 1994 is contributing to the increase in defamation cases in Malawi. The research further argues that continued existence of statutory provisions which are not in accord with free speech provisions in the 1994 Malawi Constitution infringes free speech in Malawi. To arrive at the assertions above, the study has applied mixed methods comprising doctrinal research methodology, case studies of Malawi laws and qualitative methodology. The analysis of international, regional and Malawi laws shows that free speech is sometimes limited to safeguard other societal values and other people’s rights including reputation. Free speech is provided for in the laws as a conventional right but reputation is not. This fails to protect free speech and reputation equally. Further, the analysis of Malawi laws also shows that there are various statutory provisions which are not in accord with constitutional provisions on free speech and are used by Governments of Malawi to infringe free speech. Therefore, the research investigates how to balance the laws on free speech and reputation in Malawi.
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