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Malawi improves on rule of law

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The latest World Justice Project (WJP) report indicates that Malawi has climbed one step in adherence to the rule of law category, from 67 last year to 66 this year.

The 2022 report, which is WJP’s fifth, has accountability, just law, open government as well as accessible and impartial justice as universal principles of the rule of law.

The development has elated the government, whose spokesperson Gospel Kazako said it has been laying the foundation for the rule of law and governance issues in general.

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In a report released on October 26 2022, WJP says Malawi is on number eight in the sub-Saharan region and second among low income countries.

The report quotes World Justice Project Chief Research Officer Alejandro Ponce as saying, this year, 61 percent of the 140 assessed countries did not do well on rule of law.

“The index offers new data organised into eight factors that encompass the concept of the rule of law, which are constraints on government power, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil as well as criminal justice. The results in this report show that adherence to the rule of law fell in 61 percent of countries over the past year. These declines are less widespread and extreme than last year’s, when Covid shutdowns dramatically disrupted justice systems and curtailed civic liberties.

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“There is still much work to be done to strengthen the rule of law worldwide and to prevent the arbitrary exercise of power. As a global leader in the rule of law movement, the World Justice Project reaffirms its commitment to work hand-in-hand with governments, policymakers, political actors, the private sector, civil society organisations, the media, donors and academia to create knowledge, build awareness and stimulate action to advance the rule of law worldwide,” he said.

Reacting to Malawi’s performance on rule of law, Kazako said the report is not surprising because the Tonse Alliance administration believes in rule of law as one of its building blocks.

“This report translates the DNA of one of President [Lazarus] Chakwera’s Hi-5 pillars, which focuses on the rule of law. We have managed to obtain and transform a lawless nation to a lawful one and the process continues. We have decided to do this and we will continue, against all odds, because there is no nation that can develop with lawlessness. Rule of law is a crucial ingredient of development,” he said.

However, Centre for Democracy and Elections Team Leader Aloisious Nthenda said there is more to be done, in terms of the respect for the rule of law, in the country.

“In simple terms, rule of law means we are following the laws of the country. Now let’s take issues of corruption. There are laws which criminalise corruption but, in many cases, people suspected of corruption are not being prosecuted. We have courts in the country, yes, but look at expenses one incurs to access legal services,” he said.

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