Whilst previous governments were more focused on traditional media platforms, the younger President Bingo wa Mutharika has taken to specifically targeting online activities. The government attempted to launch a ‘spying machine’, but was stopped when a court injunction was obtained by a telecom provider.
In addition to this, online content critical of the government often disappears and the Malawi Communications and Regulatory Authority (MACRA) stated that they will begin to control the use of social media in the country. Whilst internet penetration is at 6.3%, this has been steadily increasing each year.
Added to this, mobile phones are a key component of digital activism in the country and mobile penetration is 38.3%. There have been significant increases in mobile subscriptions (20% in the first half of 2016), partly due to the government’s increasing investment in the internet sector. With the country recently gaining access to international submarine fibre optic cables, we can expect infrastructure to improve rapidly.
Recommendations Received, Cycle 2
Fully investigate all cases of harassment and intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders with a view of bringing the perpetrators to justice
Recommending State: Austria
Issue a standing invitation to the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and ensure an enabling environment for the activities of journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society actors
Recommending State: Tunisia
Decriminalize defamation and incorporate this into the Civil Code
Recommending State: Ghana