Constitution of the Republic of Malawi 1994, as amended to 2010


Affirmative Action (Broadly)

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—
(i) full participation of women in all spheres of Malawian society on the basis of equal opportunities with men;
(ii) the implementation of the principles of nondiscrimination and such other measures as may be required;
… (Sec. 13)

Citizenship and Nationality

1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right— (a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity— … (iv) to acquire and retain citizenship and nationality. … (Sec. 24)

Citizenship and Nationality

(1) Every person who, immediately before the appointed day, was a citizen of Malawi under any existing law shall continue to be a citizen of Malawi after the appointed day. (2) An Act of Parliament may make provision for the acquisition or loss of citizenship of Malawi by any person after the appointed day, but citizenship shall not be arbitrarily denied or deprived. (3) In this section, the expression— (a) “acquisition of citizenship” includes acquisition by birth, descent, marriage, registration, naturalization or any other means prescribed by an Act of Parliament; and (b) “loss of citizenship” includes loss by deprivation, renunciation or any other means prescribed by an Act of Parliament. (Sec. 47)

Jurisdiction and Access

(2) The High Court shall have original jurisdiction to review any law, and any action or decision of the Government, for conformity with this Constitution, save as otherwise provided by this Constitution and shall have such other jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred on it by this Constitution or any other law. (Sec. 108)

Jurisdiction and Access

The Law Commission shall have the powers— (a) to review and make recommendations regarding any matter pertaining to the laws of Malawi and their conformity with this Constitution and applicable international law; (b) to review and make recommendations regarding any matter pertaining to this Constitution; (c) to receive any submissions from any person or body regarding the laws of Malawi or this Constitution; and (d) to report its findings and recommendations to the Minister for the time being responsible for Justice who shall publish any such report and lay it before Parliament. (Sec. 135)

Education

State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals— … (f) To provide adequate resources to the education sector and devise programmes in order to— (i) eliminate illiteracy in Malawi; (ii) make primary education compulsory and free to all citizens of Malawi; (iii) offer greater access to higher learning and continuing education; … (Sec. 13)

Education

(1) All persons are entitled to education. (2) Primary education shall consist of at least five years of education. … (Sec. 25)

Employment Rights and Protection

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals— (a) Gender Equality To obtain gender equality through— … (iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property. … (Sec. 13)

Employment Rights and Protection

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as— … (b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs; … (Sec. 24)

Employment Rights and Protection

Every person shall have the right freely to engage in economic activity, to work and to pursue a livelihood anywhere in Malawi. (Sec. 29)

Employment Rights and Protection

(1) Every person shall have the right to fair and safe labour practices and to fair remuneration. … (3) Every person shall be entitled to fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction or discrimination of any kind, in particular on basis of gender, disability or race. (4) The State shall take measures to ensure the right to withdraw labour. (Sec. 31)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

This Constitution shall bind all executive, legislative and judicial organs of the State at all levels of Government and all the peoples of Malawi are entitled to the equal protection of this Constitution, and laws made under it. (Sec. 4)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles— … (e) as all persons have equal status before the law, the only justifiable limitations to lawful rights are those necessary to ensure peaceful human interaction in an open and democratic society; … (2) Every individual shall have duties towards other individuals, his or her family and society, the State and other legally recognized communities and the international community and these duties shall include the duty to respect his or her fellow beings without discrimination and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance; … (Sec. 12)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals— (a) Gender Equality To obtain gender equality through— (i) full participation of women in all spheres of Malawian society on the basis of equal opportunities with men; (ii) the implementation of the principles of nondiscrimination and such other measures as may be required; and (iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property. … (Sec. 13)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

(1) Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are, under any law, guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status or condition. (2) Legislation may be passed addressing inequalities in society and prohibiting discriminatory practices and the propagation of such practices and may render such practices criminally punishable by the courts. (Sec. 20)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

(1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right— (a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity— (i) to enter into contracts; (ii) to acquire and maintain rights in property, independently or in association with others, regardless of their marital status; (iii) to acquire and retain custody, guardianship and care of children and to have an equal right in the making of decisions that affect their upbringing; and (iv) to acquire and retain citizenship and nationality. (b) on the dissolution of marriage, howsoever entered into— (i) to a fair disposition of property that is held jointly with a husband; and (ii) to fair maintenance, taking into consideration all the circumstances and, in particular, the means of the former husband and the needs of any children. (2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as— (a) sexual abuse, harassment and violence; (b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs; and (c) deprivation of property, including property obtained by inheritance. (Sec. 24)

Obligations of the State

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles— … (d) the inherent dignity and worth of each human being requires that the State and all persons shall recognize and protect human rights and afford the fullest protection to the rights and views of all individuals, groups and minorities whether or not they are entitled to vote; … ( Sec. 12)

Obligations of the State

(1) The human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the executive, legislature, judiciary and all organs of the Government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Malawi and shall be enforceable in the manner prescribed in this Chapter. (2) Any person or group of persons, natural or legal, with sufficient interest in the promotion, protection and enforcement of rights under this Chapter shall be entitled to the assistance of the courts, the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and other organs of the Government to ensure the promotion, protection and enforcement of those rights and the redress of any grievances in respect of those rights. (Sec. 15)

Obligations of the State

(1) Save in so far as it may be authorized to do so by this Constitution, the National Assembly or any subordinate legislative authority shall not make any law, and the executive and the agencies of Government shall not take any action, which abolishes or abridges the rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter, and any law or action in contravention thereof shall, to the extent of the contravention, be invalid. … (Sec. 46)

Obligations of the State

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), Parliament shall not have the power to delegate any legislative powers which would substantially and significantly affect the fundamental rights and freedoms recognized by this Constitution. (Sec. 58)

Obligations of Private Parties

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles— … (d) the inherent dignity and worth of each human being requires that the State and all persons shall recognize and protect human rights and afford the fullest protection to the rights and views of all individuals, groups and minorities whether or not they are entitled to vote; … (2) Every individual shall have duties towards other individuals, his or her family and society, the State and other legally recognized communities and the international community and these duties shall include the duty to respect his or her fellow beings without discrimination and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance; and in recognition of these duties, individual rights and freedoms shall be exercised with due regard for the rights of others, collective security, morality and the common interest. (Sec. 12)

Obligations of Private Parties

(1) The human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the executive, legislature, judiciary and all organs of the Government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Malawi and shall be enforceable in the manner prescribed in this Chapter. … (Sec. 15)

Judicial Protection

(1) Appropriate principles of interpretation of this Constitution shall be developed and employed by the courts to reflect the unique character and supreme status of this Constitution. (2) In interpreting the provisions of this Constitution a court of law shall— (a) promote the values which underlie an open and democratic society; (b) take full account of the provisions of Chapter III and Chapter IV2; and (c) where applicable, have regard to current norms of public international law and comparable foreign case law. (3) Where a court of law declares an act of executive or a law to be invalid, that court may apply such interpretation of that act or law as is consistent with this Constitution. (4) Any law that ousts or purports to oust the jurisdiction of the courts to entertain matters pertaining to this Constitution shall be invalid. (Sec. 11)

Judicial Protection

(1) The human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the executive, legislature, judiciary and all organs of the Government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Malawi and shall be enforceable in the manner prescribed in this Chapter. (2) Any person or group of persons, natural or legal, with sufficient interest in the promotion, protection and enforcement of rights under this Chapter shall be entitled to the assistance of the courts, the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and other organs of the Government to ensure the promotion, protection and enforcement of those rights and the redress of any grievances in respect of those rights. (Sec. 15)

Judicial Protection

(3) Every person shall have the right to an effective remedy by a court of law or tribunal for acts violating the rights and freedoms granted to him or her by this Constitution or any other law. (Sec. 41)

Judicial Protection

(2) Any person who claims that a right or freedom guaranteed by this Constitution has been infringed or threatened shall be entitled— (a) to make application to a competent court to enforce or protect such a right or freedom; … (3) Where a court referred to in subsection (2) (a) finds that rights or freedoms conferred by this Constitution have been unlawfully denied or violated, it shall have the power to make any orders that are necessary and appropriate to secure the enjoyment of those rights and freedoms and where a court finds that a threat exists to such rights or freedoms, it shall have the power to make any orders necessary and appropriate to prevent those rights and freedoms from being unlawfully denied or violated. (4) A court referred to in subsection (2) (a) shall have the power to award compensation to any person whose rights or freedoms have been unlawfully denied or violated where it considers it to be appropriate in the circumstances of a particular case. ... (Sec. 46)

National Human Rights Bodies

(1) The human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the executive, legislature, judiciary and all organs of the Government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Malawi and shall be enforceable in the manner prescribed in this Chapter. (2) Any person or group of persons, natural or legal, with sufficient interest in the promotion, protection and enforcement of rights under this Chapter shall be entitled to the assistance of the courts, the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and other organs of the Government to ensure the promotion, protection and enforcement of those rights and the redress of any grievances in respect of those rights. (Sec. 15)

National Human Rights Bodies

(2) Any person who claims that a right or freedom guaranteed by this Constitution has been infringed or threatened shall be entitled— … (b) to make application to the Ombudsman or the Human Rights Commission in order to secure such assistance or advice as he or she may reasonably require. … (Sec. 46)

National Human Rights Bodies

(1) The office of the Ombudsman may investigate any and all cases where it is alleged that a person has suffered injustice and it does not appear that there is any remedy reasonably available by way of proceedings in a court or by way of appeal from a court or where there is no other practicable remedy. (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the powers of the office of the Ombudsman under this section shall not oust the jurisdiction of the courts and the decisions and exercise of powers by the Ombudsman shall be reviewable by the High Court on the application of any person with sufficient interest in a case the Ombudsman has determined. (Sec. 123)

National Human Rights Bodies

There shall be a Human Rights Commission the primary functions of which shall be the protection and investigation of violations of the rights accorded by this Constitution or any other law. (Sec. 129)

National Human Rights Bodies

The Human Rights Commission shall, with respect to the applications of an individual or class of persons, or on its own motion, have such powers of investigation and recommendation as are reasonably necessary for the effective promotion of the rights conferred by or under this Constitution, or any other written law but shall not exercise a judicial or legislative function and shall not be given powers so to do. (Sec. 130)

Limitations and/or Derogations

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles—

(e) as all persons have equal status before the law, the only justifiable limitations to lawful rights are those necessary to ensure peaceful human interaction in an open and democratic society;
… (Sec. 12)

Limitations and/or Derogations

(1) No restrictions or limitations may be placed on the exercise of any rights and freedoms provided for in this Constitution other than those prescribed by law, which are reasonable, recognized by international human rights standards and necessary in an open and democratic society.
(2) Laws prescribing restrictions or limitations shall not negate the essential content of the right or freedom in question, and shall be of general application.
(3) Expropriation of property shall be permissible only when done for public utility and only when there has been adequate notification and appropriate compensation, provided that there shall always be a right to appeal to a court of law.
(4) Wherever it is stated in this Constitution that a person has the right to the services of a legal practitioner or medical practitioner of his or her own choice, that right shall be without limitation, save where the State is obliged to provide such services of a legal practitioner or medical practitioner, in which case an Act of Parliament may prescribe that the choice of the legal practitioner or medical practitioner should be limited to those in Government service or employment. (Sec. 44)

Limitations and/or Derogations

(1) No derogation from rights contained in this Chapter shall be permissible save to the extent provided for by this section and no such derogation shall be made unless there has been a declaration of a state of emergency within the meaning of this section.
(2) There shall be no derogation with regard to—
(a) the right to life;
(b) the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(c) the prohibition of genocide;
(d) the prohibition of slavery, the slave trade and slave-like practices;
(e) the prohibition of imprisonment for failure to meet contractual obligations;
(f) the prohibition on retrospective criminalization and the retrospective imposition of greater penalties for criminal acts;
(g) the right to equality and recognition before the law;
(h) the right to freedom of conscience, belief, thought and religion and to academic freedom; or
(i) the right to habeas corpus.

(4) Derogation from the rights contained in this Chapter, other than the rights listed in subsection (2), shall be permissible during a state of emergency within the meaning of this section and to the extent that—
(a) such derogation is consistent with the obligations of Malawi under international law; and
(b) in the case of—
(i) war or threat of war, it is strictly required to prevent the lives of defensive combatants and civilians as well as legitimate military objectives from being placed in direct jeopardy; or
(ii) a widespread natural disaster, it is strictly required for the protection and relief of those people and facilities whether in or outside the disaster area.
… (Sec. 45)

Limitations and/or Derogations

(1) Save in so far as it may be authorized to do so by this Constitution, the National Assembly or any subordinate legislative authority shall not make any law, and the executive and the agencies of Government shall not take any action, which abolishes or abridges the rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter, and any law or action in contravention thereof shall, to the extent of the contravention, be invalid.
… (Sec. 46)

Limitations and/or Derogations

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), Parliament shall not have the power to delegate any legislative powers which would substantially and significantly affect the fundamental rights and freedoms recognized by this Constitution. (Sec. 58)

Marriage and Family Life

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—

(iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property.

(i) The Family
To recognize and protect the family as a fundamental and vital social unit.
… (Sec. 13)

Marriage and Family Life

(1) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State. (2) Each member of the family shall enjoy full and equal respect and shall be protected by law against all forms of neglect, cruelty or exploitation. (3) All men and women have the right to marry and found a family. (4) No person shall be forced to enter into marriage. (5) Subsections (3) and (4) shall apply to all marriages at law, custom and marriages by repute or by permanent cohabitation. (6) No person over the age of eighteen years shall be prevented from entering into marriage. (7) For persons between the age of fifteen and eighteen years a marriage shall only be entered into with the consent of their parents or guardians. (8) The State shall actively discourage marriage between persons where either of them is under the age of fifteen years. (Sec. 22)

Marriage and Family Life

(1) All children, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, are entitled to equal treatment before the law, and the best interests and welfare of children shall be a primary consideration in all decisions affecting them.

(3) Children have the right to know, and to be raised by, their parents.
(4) All children shall be entitled to reasonable maintenance from their parents, whether such parents are married, unmarried or divorced, and from their guardians; and, in addition, all children, and particularly orphans, children with disabilities and other children in situations of disadvantage shall be entitled to live in safety and security and, where appropriate, to State assistance.
… (Sec. 23)

Marriage and Family Life

(1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right—
(a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity—

(iii) to acquire and retain custody, guardianship and care of children and to have an equal right in the making of decisions that affect their upbringing;

(b) on the dissolution of marriage, howsoever entered into—
(i) to a fair disposition of property that is held jointly with a husband; and
(ii) to fair maintenance, taking into consideration all the circumstances and, in particular, the means of the former husband and the needs of any children.
… (Sec. 24)

Minorities

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles—

(d) the inherent dignity and worth of each human being requires that the State and all persons shall recognize and protect human rights and afford the fullest protection to the rights and views of all individuals, groups and minorities whether or not they are entitled to vote;
… (Sec. 12)

Participation in Public Life and Institutions

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—
(i) full participation of women in all spheres of Malawian society on the basis of equal opportunities with men;
… (Sec. 13)

Participation in Public Life and Institutions

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—

(b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs;
… (Sec. 24)

Political Rights and Association

(1) Every person shall have the right to freedom of association, which shall include the freedom to form associations.
… (Sec. 32)

Political Rights and Association

(1) Subject to this Constitution, every person shall have the right—
(a) to form, to join, to participate in the activities of, and to recruit members for, a political party;
(b) to campaign for a political party or cause;
(c) to participate in peaceful political activity intended to influence the composition and policies of the Government; and
(d) freely to make political choices.

(3) Save as otherwise provided in this Constitution, every person shall have the right to vote, to do so in secret and to stand for election for any elective office. (Sec. 40)

Political Rights and Association

(1) All persons shall be eligible to vote in any general election, by-election, presidential election, local government election or referendum, subject only to this section.
(2) Subject to subsection (3), a person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter in a constituency if, and shall not be so qualified unless, at the date of the application for registration that person—
(a) is a citizen of Malawi or, if not a citizen, has been ordinarily resident in the Republic for seven years;
(b) has attained the age of eighteen years; and
(c) is ordinarily resident in that constituency or was born there or is employed or carries on a business there.
… (Sec. 77)

Political Parties

(1) Subject to this Constitution, every person shall have the right—
(a) to form, to join, to participate in the activities of, and to recruit members for, a political party;
(b) to campaign for a political party or cause;

(2) The State shall, provide funds so as to ensure that, during the life of any Parliament, any political party which has secured more than one-tenth of the national vote in elections to that Parliament has sufficient funds to continue to represent its constituency.
… (Sec. 40)

Electoral Bodies

(1) The Electoral Commission shall exercise such functions in relation to elections as are conferred upon it by this Constitution or by an Act of Parliament.
(2) The duties and functions of the Electoral Commission shall include—
(a) to determine constituency boundaries impartially on the oasis of ensuring that constituencies contain approximately equal numbers of voters eligible to register, subject only to considerations of—
(i) population density;
(ii) ease of communication; and
(iii) geographical features and existing administrative areas;
(b) to review existing constituency boundaries at intervals of not more than five years and alter them in accordance with the principles laid down in subsection (2) (a);
(c) to determine electoral petitions and complaints related to the conduct of any elections;
(d) to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Constitution and any Act of Parliament;
and
(e) to perform such other functions as may be prescribed by this Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
… (Sec. 76)

Head of State

There shall be a President of the Republic who shall be Head of State and Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force of Malawi. (Sec. 78)

Head of State

(2) The President shall be elected by a majority of the electorate through direct, universal and equal suffrage.

(6) Notwithstanding any provision of this Constitution to the contrary, a person shall only be qualified for nomination for election as President or First Vice-President or for appointment as First Vice-President or Second Vice-President if that person—
(a) is a citizen of Malawi by birth or descent; and
(b) has attained the age of thirty-five years.
… (Sec. 80)

Vice-President

There shall be a First Vice-President and, subject to section 80 (5), a Second Vice-President both of whom shall assist the President and who shall exercise the powers and functions conferred on the First Vice-President or the Second Vice-President, as the case may be, by this Constitution or by any Act of Parliament and by the President. (Sec. 79)

Vice-President

(3) Every presidential candidate shall declare who shall be his or her First Vice-President if he or she is elected at the time of his or her nomination.
(4) The First Vice-President shall be elected concurrently with the President and the name of a candidate for the First Vice-President shall appear on the same ballot paper as the name of the Presidential candidate who nominated him.
(5) Where the President considers it desirable in the national interest so to do, he or she may appoint a person to the office of Second Vice-President and may do so upon taking his or her oath of office or at any time thereafter or upon a vacancy in the office of Second Vice-President; …
(6) Notwithstanding any provision of this Constitution to the contrary, a person shall only be qualified for nomination for election as President or First Vice-President or for appointment as First Vice-President or Second Vice-President if that person—
(a) is a citizen of Malawi by birth or descent; and
(b) has attained the age of thirty-five years.
… (Sec. 80)

Government

(1) There shall be a Cabinet consisting of the President, the First Vice-President, the Second Vice-President and such Ministers and Deputy Ministers as may, from time to time, be appointed by the President.
… (Sec. 92)

Government

(1) The President shall have the power to appoint Ministers or Deputy Ministers and to fill vacancies in the Cabinet.
(2) A person shall not be qualified to be appointed as a Minister or Deputy Minister unless that person—
(a) is a citizen of the Republic who upon taking office, has attained the age of twenty-one years;
(b) is able to speak and to read the English language; and
(c) is registered as a voter in a constituency.
… (Sec. 94)

Legislature

(1) All legislative powers of the Republic shall be vested in Parliament which shall have the powers and responsibilities set out in this Constitution.
… (Sec. 48)

Legislature

(1) A person shall not be qualified to be nominated or elected as a member of the Parliament unless that person—
(a) is a citizen of the Republic who at the time of nomination has attained the age of twenty-one years;
(b) is able to speak and to read the English language well enough to take an active part in the proceedings of Parliament; and
(c) is registered as a voter in a constituency.
… (Sec. 51)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—

(iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property.
… (Sec. 13)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right—
(a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity—

(ii) to acquire and maintain rights in property, independently or in association with others, regardless of their marital status;

(b) on the dissolution of marriage, howsoever entered into—
(i) to a fair disposition of property that is held jointly with a husband;

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—

(c) deprivation of property, including property obtained by inheritance. (Sec. 24)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

(1) Every person shall be able to acquire property alone or in association with others.
… (Sec. 28)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

(1) All persons who have rights in property at the date of the commencement of this Constitution shall continue to have such rights under this Constitution and any other law.
… (Sec. 209)

Protection from Violence

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—

(iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property.
… (Sec. 13)

Protection from Violence

(3) No person shall be subject to torture of any kind or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

(5) No person shall be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation without his or her consent.
… (Sec. 19)

Protection from Violence

(2) Each member of the family shall enjoy full and equal respect and shall be protected by law against all forms of neglect, cruelty or exploitation.
… (Sec. 22)

Protection from Violence

(5) Children are entitled to be protected from economic exploitation or any treatment, work or punishment that is, or is likely to—
(a) be hazardous;
(b) interfere with their education; or
(c) be harmful to their health or to their physical, mental or spiritual or social development.
… (Sec. 23)

Protection from Violence

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—
(a) sexual abuse, harassment and violence;
… (Sec. 24)

Protection from Violence

(1) No person shall be held in slavery or servitude.
(2) Slavery and the slave trade are prohibited.
(3) No person shall be subject to forced labour.
(4) No person shall be subject to tied labour that amounts to servitude. (Sec. 27)

Public Institutions and Services

(1) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
... (Sec. 22)

Public Institutions and Services

(4) All children shall be entitled to reasonable maintenance from their parents, whether such parents are married, unmarried or divorced, and from their guardians; and, in addition, all children, and particularly orphans, children with disabilities and other children in situations of disadvantage shall be entitled to live in safety and security and, where appropriate, to State assistance.
… (Sec. 23)

Public Institutions and Services

(1) All persons and peoples have a right to development and therefore to the enjoyment of economic, social, cultural and political development and women, children and persons with disabilities in particular shall be given special consideration in the application of this right.
(2) The State shall take all necessary measures for the realization of the right to development. Such measures shall include, amongst other things, equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, shelter, employment and infrastructure.
(3) The State shall take measures to introduce reforms aimed at eradicating social injustices and inequalities.
(4) The State has a responsibility to respect the right to development and to justify its policies in accordance with this responsibility. (Sec. 30)

Status of the Constitution

This Constitution shall bind all executive, legislative and judicial organs of the State at all levels of Government and all the peoples of Malawi are entitled to the equal protection of this Constitution, and laws made under it.
(Sec. 4)

Status of the Constitution

Any act of Government or any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be invalid. (Sec. 5)

Status of the Constitution

(1) In the interpretation of all laws and in the resolution of political disputes the provisions of this Constitution shall be regarded as the supreme arbiter and ultimate source of authority.
(2) In the application and formulation of any Act of Parliament and in the application and development of the common law and customary law, the relevant organs of State shall have due regard to the principles and provisions of this Constitution. (Sec. 10)

Status of the Constitution

(1) Appropriate principles of interpretation of this Constitution shall be developed and employed by the courts to reflect the unique character and supreme status of this Constitution.
(2) In interpreting the provisions of this Constitution a court of law shall—
(a) promote the values which underlie an open and democratic society;
(b) take full account of the provisions of Chapter III and Chapter IV3 ; and
(c) where applicable, have regard to current norms of public international law and comparable foreign case law.
(3) Where a court of law declares an act of executive or a law to be invalid, that court may apply such interpretation of that act or law as is consistent with this Constitution.
(4) Any law that ousts or purports to oust the jurisdiction of the courts to entertain matters pertaining to this Constitution shall be invalid. (Sec. 11)

Status of the Constitution

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles—

(f) all institutions and persons shall observe and uphold this Constitution and the rule of law and no institution or person shall stand above the law.
… (Sec. 12)

Status of the Constitution

This Constitution shall have the status as supreme law and there shall be no legal or political authority save as is provided by or under this Constitution. (Sec. 199)

Status of the Constitution

Except in so far as they are inconsistent with this Constitution, all Acts of Parliament, common law and customary law in force on the appointed day shall continue to have force of law, as if they had been made in accordance with and in pursuance of this Constitution:
Provided that any laws currently in force may be amended or repealed by an Act of Parliament or be declared unconstitutional by a competent court. (Sec. 200)

Status of the Constitution

(3) Customary international law, unless inconsistent with this Constitution or an Act of Parliament, shall form part of the law of the Republic. (Sec. 211)

Status of International Law

(1) Appropriate principles of interpretation of this Constitution shall be developed and employed by the courts to reflect the unique character and supreme status of this Constitution.
(2) In interpreting the provisions of this Constitution a court of law shall—

(c) where applicable, have regard to current norms of public international law and comparable foreign case law.
… (Sec. 11)

Status of International Law

(1) No restrictions or limitations may be placed on the exercise of any rights and freedoms provided for in this Constitution other than those prescribed by law, which are reasonable, recognized by international human rights standards and necessary in an open and democratic society.
… (Sec. 44)

Status of International Law

(1) No derogation from rights contained in this Chapter shall be permissible save to the extent provided for by this section and no such derogation shall be made unless there has been a declaration of a state of emergency within the meaning of this section.
(2) There shall be no derogation with regard to—
(a) the right to life;
(b) the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(c) the prohibition of genocide;
(d) the prohibition of slavery, the slave trade and slave-like practices;
(e) the prohibition of imprisonment for failure to meet contractual obligations;
(f) the prohibition on retrospective criminalization and the retrospective imposition of greater penalties for criminal acts;
(g) the right to equality and recognition before the law;
(h) the right to freedom of conscience, belief, thought and religion and to academic freedom; or
(i) the right to habeas corpus.

(4) Derogation from the rights contained in this Chapter, other than the rights listed in subsection (2), shall be permissible during a state of emergency within the meaning of this section and to the extent that—
(a) such derogation is consistent with the obligations of Malawi under international law;
… (Sec. 45)

Status of International Law

The Law Commission shall have the powers—
(a) to review and make recommendations regarding any matter pertaining to the laws of Malawi and their conformity with this Constitution and applicable international law;
… (Sec. 135)

Status of International Law

(1) Any international agreement entered into after the commencement of this Constitution shall form part of the law of the Republic if so provided by an Act of Parliament.
(2) Binding international agreements entered into before the commencement of this Constitution shall continue to bind the Republic unless otherwise provided by an Act of Parliament.
(3) Customary international law, unless inconsistent with this Constitution or an Act of Parliament, shall form part of the law of the Republic. (Sec. 211)

Customary Law

(1) In the interpretation of all laws and in the resolution of political disputes the provisions of this Constitution shall be regarded as the supreme arbiter and ultimate source of authority.
(2) In the application and formulation of any Act of Parliament and in the application and development of the common law and customary law, the relevant organs of State shall have due regard to the principles and provisions of this Constitution. (Sec. 10)

Customary Law

(3) All men and women have the right to marry and found a family.
(4) No person shall be forced to enter into marriage.
(5) Subsections (3) and (4) shall apply to all marriages at law, custom and marriages by repute or by permanent cohabitation.
… (Sec. 22)

Customary Law

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—
(a) sexual abuse, harassment and violence;
(b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs; and
(c) deprivation of property, including property obtained by inheritance. (Sec. 24)

Customary Law

(3) Parliament may make provision for traditional or local courts presided over by lay persons or chiefs:
Provided that the jurisdiction of such courts shall be limited exclusively to civil cases at customary law and such minor common law and statutory offences as prescribed by an Act of Parliament.
(4) Appeals from subordinate courts shall lie to the High Court, unless provided in this Constitution or by an Act of Parliament. (Sec. 110)

Customary Law

Except in so far as they are inconsistent with this Constitution, all Acts of Parliament, common law and customary law in force on the appointed day shall continue to have force of law, as if they had been made in accordance with and in pursuance of this Constitution:
Provided that any laws currently in force may be amended or repealed by an Act of Parliament or be declared unconstitutional by a competent court. (Sec. 200)

Women’s Rights

(1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right—
(a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity—
(i) to enter into contracts;
(ii) to acquire and maintain rights in property, independently or in association with others, regardless of their marital status;
(iii) to acquire and retain custody, guardianship and care of children and to have an equal right in the making of decisions that affect their upbringing; and
(iv) to acquire and retain citizenship and nationality.
(b) on the dissolution of marriage, howsoever entered into—
(i) to a fair disposition of property that is held jointly with a husband; and
(ii) to fair maintenance, taking into consideration all the circumstances and, in particular, the means of the former husband and the needs of any children.
(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—
(a) sexual abuse, harassment and violence;
(b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs; and
(c) deprivation of property, including property obtained by inheritance. (Sec. 24)

Affirmative Action (Broadly)

English

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—
(i) full participation of women in all spheres of Malawian society on the basis of equal opportunities with men;
(ii) the implementation of the principles of nondiscrimination and such other measures as may be required;
… (Sec. 13)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right— (a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity— … (iv) to acquire and retain citizenship and nationality. … (Sec. 24)

Citizenship and Nationality

English

(1) Every person who, immediately before the appointed day, was a citizen of Malawi under any existing law shall continue to be a citizen of Malawi after the appointed day. (2) An Act of Parliament may make provision for the acquisition or loss of citizenship of Malawi by any person after the appointed day, but citizenship shall not be arbitrarily denied or deprived. (3) In this section, the expression— (a) “acquisition of citizenship” includes acquisition by birth, descent, marriage, registration, naturalization or any other means prescribed by an Act of Parliament; and (b) “loss of citizenship” includes loss by deprivation, renunciation or any other means prescribed by an Act of Parliament. (Sec. 47)

Jurisdiction and Access

English

(2) The High Court shall have original jurisdiction to review any law, and any action or decision of the Government, for conformity with this Constitution, save as otherwise provided by this Constitution and shall have such other jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred on it by this Constitution or any other law. (Sec. 108)

Jurisdiction and Access

English

The Law Commission shall have the powers— (a) to review and make recommendations regarding any matter pertaining to the laws of Malawi and their conformity with this Constitution and applicable international law; (b) to review and make recommendations regarding any matter pertaining to this Constitution; (c) to receive any submissions from any person or body regarding the laws of Malawi or this Constitution; and (d) to report its findings and recommendations to the Minister for the time being responsible for Justice who shall publish any such report and lay it before Parliament. (Sec. 135)

Education

English

State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals— … (f) To provide adequate resources to the education sector and devise programmes in order to— (i) eliminate illiteracy in Malawi; (ii) make primary education compulsory and free to all citizens of Malawi; (iii) offer greater access to higher learning and continuing education; … (Sec. 13)

Education

English

(1) All persons are entitled to education. (2) Primary education shall consist of at least five years of education. … (Sec. 25)

Employment Rights and Protection

English

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals— (a) Gender Equality To obtain gender equality through— … (iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property. … (Sec. 13)

Employment Rights and Protection

English

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as— … (b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs; … (Sec. 24)

Employment Rights and Protection

English

Every person shall have the right freely to engage in economic activity, to work and to pursue a livelihood anywhere in Malawi. (Sec. 29)

Employment Rights and Protection

English

(1) Every person shall have the right to fair and safe labour practices and to fair remuneration. … (3) Every person shall be entitled to fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction or discrimination of any kind, in particular on basis of gender, disability or race. (4) The State shall take measures to ensure the right to withdraw labour. (Sec. 31)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

This Constitution shall bind all executive, legislative and judicial organs of the State at all levels of Government and all the peoples of Malawi are entitled to the equal protection of this Constitution, and laws made under it. (Sec. 4)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles— … (e) as all persons have equal status before the law, the only justifiable limitations to lawful rights are those necessary to ensure peaceful human interaction in an open and democratic society; … (2) Every individual shall have duties towards other individuals, his or her family and society, the State and other legally recognized communities and the international community and these duties shall include the duty to respect his or her fellow beings without discrimination and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance; … (Sec. 12)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals— (a) Gender Equality To obtain gender equality through— (i) full participation of women in all spheres of Malawian society on the basis of equal opportunities with men; (ii) the implementation of the principles of nondiscrimination and such other measures as may be required; and (iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property. … (Sec. 13)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

(1) Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are, under any law, guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status or condition. (2) Legislation may be passed addressing inequalities in society and prohibiting discriminatory practices and the propagation of such practices and may render such practices criminally punishable by the courts. (Sec. 20)

Equality and Non-Discrimination

English

(1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right— (a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity— (i) to enter into contracts; (ii) to acquire and maintain rights in property, independently or in association with others, regardless of their marital status; (iii) to acquire and retain custody, guardianship and care of children and to have an equal right in the making of decisions that affect their upbringing; and (iv) to acquire and retain citizenship and nationality. (b) on the dissolution of marriage, howsoever entered into— (i) to a fair disposition of property that is held jointly with a husband; and (ii) to fair maintenance, taking into consideration all the circumstances and, in particular, the means of the former husband and the needs of any children. (2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as— (a) sexual abuse, harassment and violence; (b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs; and (c) deprivation of property, including property obtained by inheritance. (Sec. 24)

Obligations of the State

English

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles— … (d) the inherent dignity and worth of each human being requires that the State and all persons shall recognize and protect human rights and afford the fullest protection to the rights and views of all individuals, groups and minorities whether or not they are entitled to vote; … ( Sec. 12)

Obligations of the State

English

(1) The human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the executive, legislature, judiciary and all organs of the Government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Malawi and shall be enforceable in the manner prescribed in this Chapter. (2) Any person or group of persons, natural or legal, with sufficient interest in the promotion, protection and enforcement of rights under this Chapter shall be entitled to the assistance of the courts, the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and other organs of the Government to ensure the promotion, protection and enforcement of those rights and the redress of any grievances in respect of those rights. (Sec. 15)

Obligations of the State

English

(1) Save in so far as it may be authorized to do so by this Constitution, the National Assembly or any subordinate legislative authority shall not make any law, and the executive and the agencies of Government shall not take any action, which abolishes or abridges the rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter, and any law or action in contravention thereof shall, to the extent of the contravention, be invalid. … (Sec. 46)

Obligations of the State

English

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), Parliament shall not have the power to delegate any legislative powers which would substantially and significantly affect the fundamental rights and freedoms recognized by this Constitution. (Sec. 58)

Obligations of Private Parties

English

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles— … (d) the inherent dignity and worth of each human being requires that the State and all persons shall recognize and protect human rights and afford the fullest protection to the rights and views of all individuals, groups and minorities whether or not they are entitled to vote; … (2) Every individual shall have duties towards other individuals, his or her family and society, the State and other legally recognized communities and the international community and these duties shall include the duty to respect his or her fellow beings without discrimination and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance; and in recognition of these duties, individual rights and freedoms shall be exercised with due regard for the rights of others, collective security, morality and the common interest. (Sec. 12)

Obligations of Private Parties

English

(1) The human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the executive, legislature, judiciary and all organs of the Government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Malawi and shall be enforceable in the manner prescribed in this Chapter. … (Sec. 15)

Judicial Protection

English

(1) Appropriate principles of interpretation of this Constitution shall be developed and employed by the courts to reflect the unique character and supreme status of this Constitution. (2) In interpreting the provisions of this Constitution a court of law shall— (a) promote the values which underlie an open and democratic society; (b) take full account of the provisions of Chapter III and Chapter IV2; and (c) where applicable, have regard to current norms of public international law and comparable foreign case law. (3) Where a court of law declares an act of executive or a law to be invalid, that court may apply such interpretation of that act or law as is consistent with this Constitution. (4) Any law that ousts or purports to oust the jurisdiction of the courts to entertain matters pertaining to this Constitution shall be invalid. (Sec. 11)

Judicial Protection

English

(1) The human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the executive, legislature, judiciary and all organs of the Government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Malawi and shall be enforceable in the manner prescribed in this Chapter. (2) Any person or group of persons, natural or legal, with sufficient interest in the promotion, protection and enforcement of rights under this Chapter shall be entitled to the assistance of the courts, the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and other organs of the Government to ensure the promotion, protection and enforcement of those rights and the redress of any grievances in respect of those rights. (Sec. 15)

Judicial Protection

English

(3) Every person shall have the right to an effective remedy by a court of law or tribunal for acts violating the rights and freedoms granted to him or her by this Constitution or any other law. (Sec. 41)

Judicial Protection

English

(2) Any person who claims that a right or freedom guaranteed by this Constitution has been infringed or threatened shall be entitled— (a) to make application to a competent court to enforce or protect such a right or freedom; … (3) Where a court referred to in subsection (2) (a) finds that rights or freedoms conferred by this Constitution have been unlawfully denied or violated, it shall have the power to make any orders that are necessary and appropriate to secure the enjoyment of those rights and freedoms and where a court finds that a threat exists to such rights or freedoms, it shall have the power to make any orders necessary and appropriate to prevent those rights and freedoms from being unlawfully denied or violated. (4) A court referred to in subsection (2) (a) shall have the power to award compensation to any person whose rights or freedoms have been unlawfully denied or violated where it considers it to be appropriate in the circumstances of a particular case. ... (Sec. 46)

National Human Rights Bodies

English

(1) The human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by the executive, legislature, judiciary and all organs of the Government and its agencies and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in Malawi and shall be enforceable in the manner prescribed in this Chapter. (2) Any person or group of persons, natural or legal, with sufficient interest in the promotion, protection and enforcement of rights under this Chapter shall be entitled to the assistance of the courts, the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and other organs of the Government to ensure the promotion, protection and enforcement of those rights and the redress of any grievances in respect of those rights. (Sec. 15)

National Human Rights Bodies

English

(2) Any person who claims that a right or freedom guaranteed by this Constitution has been infringed or threatened shall be entitled— … (b) to make application to the Ombudsman or the Human Rights Commission in order to secure such assistance or advice as he or she may reasonably require. … (Sec. 46)

National Human Rights Bodies

English

(1) The office of the Ombudsman may investigate any and all cases where it is alleged that a person has suffered injustice and it does not appear that there is any remedy reasonably available by way of proceedings in a court or by way of appeal from a court or where there is no other practicable remedy. (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the powers of the office of the Ombudsman under this section shall not oust the jurisdiction of the courts and the decisions and exercise of powers by the Ombudsman shall be reviewable by the High Court on the application of any person with sufficient interest in a case the Ombudsman has determined. (Sec. 123)

National Human Rights Bodies

English

There shall be a Human Rights Commission the primary functions of which shall be the protection and investigation of violations of the rights accorded by this Constitution or any other law. (Sec. 129)

National Human Rights Bodies

English

The Human Rights Commission shall, with respect to the applications of an individual or class of persons, or on its own motion, have such powers of investigation and recommendation as are reasonably necessary for the effective promotion of the rights conferred by or under this Constitution, or any other written law but shall not exercise a judicial or legislative function and shall not be given powers so to do. (Sec. 130)

Limitations and/or Derogations

English

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles—

(e) as all persons have equal status before the law, the only justifiable limitations to lawful rights are those necessary to ensure peaceful human interaction in an open and democratic society;
… (Sec. 12)

Limitations and/or Derogations

English

(1) No restrictions or limitations may be placed on the exercise of any rights and freedoms provided for in this Constitution other than those prescribed by law, which are reasonable, recognized by international human rights standards and necessary in an open and democratic society.
(2) Laws prescribing restrictions or limitations shall not negate the essential content of the right or freedom in question, and shall be of general application.
(3) Expropriation of property shall be permissible only when done for public utility and only when there has been adequate notification and appropriate compensation, provided that there shall always be a right to appeal to a court of law.
(4) Wherever it is stated in this Constitution that a person has the right to the services of a legal practitioner or medical practitioner of his or her own choice, that right shall be without limitation, save where the State is obliged to provide such services of a legal practitioner or medical practitioner, in which case an Act of Parliament may prescribe that the choice of the legal practitioner or medical practitioner should be limited to those in Government service or employment. (Sec. 44)

Limitations and/or Derogations

English

(1) No derogation from rights contained in this Chapter shall be permissible save to the extent provided for by this section and no such derogation shall be made unless there has been a declaration of a state of emergency within the meaning of this section.
(2) There shall be no derogation with regard to—
(a) the right to life;
(b) the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(c) the prohibition of genocide;
(d) the prohibition of slavery, the slave trade and slave-like practices;
(e) the prohibition of imprisonment for failure to meet contractual obligations;
(f) the prohibition on retrospective criminalization and the retrospective imposition of greater penalties for criminal acts;
(g) the right to equality and recognition before the law;
(h) the right to freedom of conscience, belief, thought and religion and to academic freedom; or
(i) the right to habeas corpus.

(4) Derogation from the rights contained in this Chapter, other than the rights listed in subsection (2), shall be permissible during a state of emergency within the meaning of this section and to the extent that—
(a) such derogation is consistent with the obligations of Malawi under international law; and
(b) in the case of—
(i) war or threat of war, it is strictly required to prevent the lives of defensive combatants and civilians as well as legitimate military objectives from being placed in direct jeopardy; or
(ii) a widespread natural disaster, it is strictly required for the protection and relief of those people and facilities whether in or outside the disaster area.
… (Sec. 45)

Limitations and/or Derogations

English

(1) Save in so far as it may be authorized to do so by this Constitution, the National Assembly or any subordinate legislative authority shall not make any law, and the executive and the agencies of Government shall not take any action, which abolishes or abridges the rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter, and any law or action in contravention thereof shall, to the extent of the contravention, be invalid.
… (Sec. 46)

Limitations and/or Derogations

English

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), Parliament shall not have the power to delegate any legislative powers which would substantially and significantly affect the fundamental rights and freedoms recognized by this Constitution. (Sec. 58)

Marriage and Family Life

English

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—

(iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property.

(i) The Family
To recognize and protect the family as a fundamental and vital social unit.
… (Sec. 13)

Marriage and Family Life

English

(1) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State. (2) Each member of the family shall enjoy full and equal respect and shall be protected by law against all forms of neglect, cruelty or exploitation. (3) All men and women have the right to marry and found a family. (4) No person shall be forced to enter into marriage. (5) Subsections (3) and (4) shall apply to all marriages at law, custom and marriages by repute or by permanent cohabitation. (6) No person over the age of eighteen years shall be prevented from entering into marriage. (7) For persons between the age of fifteen and eighteen years a marriage shall only be entered into with the consent of their parents or guardians. (8) The State shall actively discourage marriage between persons where either of them is under the age of fifteen years. (Sec. 22)

Marriage and Family Life

English

(1) All children, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, are entitled to equal treatment before the law, and the best interests and welfare of children shall be a primary consideration in all decisions affecting them.

(3) Children have the right to know, and to be raised by, their parents.
(4) All children shall be entitled to reasonable maintenance from their parents, whether such parents are married, unmarried or divorced, and from their guardians; and, in addition, all children, and particularly orphans, children with disabilities and other children in situations of disadvantage shall be entitled to live in safety and security and, where appropriate, to State assistance.
… (Sec. 23)

Marriage and Family Life

English

(1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right—
(a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity—

(iii) to acquire and retain custody, guardianship and care of children and to have an equal right in the making of decisions that affect their upbringing;

(b) on the dissolution of marriage, howsoever entered into—
(i) to a fair disposition of property that is held jointly with a husband; and
(ii) to fair maintenance, taking into consideration all the circumstances and, in particular, the means of the former husband and the needs of any children.
… (Sec. 24)

Minorities

English

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles—

(d) the inherent dignity and worth of each human being requires that the State and all persons shall recognize and protect human rights and afford the fullest protection to the rights and views of all individuals, groups and minorities whether or not they are entitled to vote;
… (Sec. 12)

Participation in Public Life and Institutions

English

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—
(i) full participation of women in all spheres of Malawian society on the basis of equal opportunities with men;
… (Sec. 13)

Participation in Public Life and Institutions

English

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—

(b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs;
… (Sec. 24)

Political Rights and Association

English

(1) Every person shall have the right to freedom of association, which shall include the freedom to form associations.
… (Sec. 32)

Political Rights and Association

English

(1) Subject to this Constitution, every person shall have the right—
(a) to form, to join, to participate in the activities of, and to recruit members for, a political party;
(b) to campaign for a political party or cause;
(c) to participate in peaceful political activity intended to influence the composition and policies of the Government; and
(d) freely to make political choices.

(3) Save as otherwise provided in this Constitution, every person shall have the right to vote, to do so in secret and to stand for election for any elective office. (Sec. 40)

Political Rights and Association

English

(1) All persons shall be eligible to vote in any general election, by-election, presidential election, local government election or referendum, subject only to this section.
(2) Subject to subsection (3), a person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter in a constituency if, and shall not be so qualified unless, at the date of the application for registration that person—
(a) is a citizen of Malawi or, if not a citizen, has been ordinarily resident in the Republic for seven years;
(b) has attained the age of eighteen years; and
(c) is ordinarily resident in that constituency or was born there or is employed or carries on a business there.
… (Sec. 77)

Political Parties

English

(1) Subject to this Constitution, every person shall have the right—
(a) to form, to join, to participate in the activities of, and to recruit members for, a political party;
(b) to campaign for a political party or cause;

(2) The State shall, provide funds so as to ensure that, during the life of any Parliament, any political party which has secured more than one-tenth of the national vote in elections to that Parliament has sufficient funds to continue to represent its constituency.
… (Sec. 40)

Electoral Bodies

English

(1) The Electoral Commission shall exercise such functions in relation to elections as are conferred upon it by this Constitution or by an Act of Parliament.
(2) The duties and functions of the Electoral Commission shall include—
(a) to determine constituency boundaries impartially on the oasis of ensuring that constituencies contain approximately equal numbers of voters eligible to register, subject only to considerations of—
(i) population density;
(ii) ease of communication; and
(iii) geographical features and existing administrative areas;
(b) to review existing constituency boundaries at intervals of not more than five years and alter them in accordance with the principles laid down in subsection (2) (a);
(c) to determine electoral petitions and complaints related to the conduct of any elections;
(d) to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Constitution and any Act of Parliament;
and
(e) to perform such other functions as may be prescribed by this Constitution or an Act of Parliament.
… (Sec. 76)

Head of State

English

There shall be a President of the Republic who shall be Head of State and Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force of Malawi. (Sec. 78)

Head of State

English

(2) The President shall be elected by a majority of the electorate through direct, universal and equal suffrage.

(6) Notwithstanding any provision of this Constitution to the contrary, a person shall only be qualified for nomination for election as President or First Vice-President or for appointment as First Vice-President or Second Vice-President if that person—
(a) is a citizen of Malawi by birth or descent; and
(b) has attained the age of thirty-five years.
… (Sec. 80)

Vice-President

English

There shall be a First Vice-President and, subject to section 80 (5), a Second Vice-President both of whom shall assist the President and who shall exercise the powers and functions conferred on the First Vice-President or the Second Vice-President, as the case may be, by this Constitution or by any Act of Parliament and by the President. (Sec. 79)

Vice-President

English

(3) Every presidential candidate shall declare who shall be his or her First Vice-President if he or she is elected at the time of his or her nomination.
(4) The First Vice-President shall be elected concurrently with the President and the name of a candidate for the First Vice-President shall appear on the same ballot paper as the name of the Presidential candidate who nominated him.
(5) Where the President considers it desirable in the national interest so to do, he or she may appoint a person to the office of Second Vice-President and may do so upon taking his or her oath of office or at any time thereafter or upon a vacancy in the office of Second Vice-President; …
(6) Notwithstanding any provision of this Constitution to the contrary, a person shall only be qualified for nomination for election as President or First Vice-President or for appointment as First Vice-President or Second Vice-President if that person—
(a) is a citizen of Malawi by birth or descent; and
(b) has attained the age of thirty-five years.
… (Sec. 80)

Government

English

(1) There shall be a Cabinet consisting of the President, the First Vice-President, the Second Vice-President and such Ministers and Deputy Ministers as may, from time to time, be appointed by the President.
… (Sec. 92)

Government

English

(1) The President shall have the power to appoint Ministers or Deputy Ministers and to fill vacancies in the Cabinet.
(2) A person shall not be qualified to be appointed as a Minister or Deputy Minister unless that person—
(a) is a citizen of the Republic who upon taking office, has attained the age of twenty-one years;
(b) is able to speak and to read the English language; and
(c) is registered as a voter in a constituency.
… (Sec. 94)

Legislature

English

(1) All legislative powers of the Republic shall be vested in Parliament which shall have the powers and responsibilities set out in this Constitution.
… (Sec. 48)

Legislature

English

(1) A person shall not be qualified to be nominated or elected as a member of the Parliament unless that person—
(a) is a citizen of the Republic who at the time of nomination has attained the age of twenty-one years;
(b) is able to speak and to read the English language well enough to take an active part in the proceedings of Parliament; and
(c) is registered as a voter in a constituency.
… (Sec. 51)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

English

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—

(iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property.
… (Sec. 13)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

English

1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right—
(a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity—

(ii) to acquire and maintain rights in property, independently or in association with others, regardless of their marital status;

(b) on the dissolution of marriage, howsoever entered into—
(i) to a fair disposition of property that is held jointly with a husband;

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—

(c) deprivation of property, including property obtained by inheritance. (Sec. 24)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

English

(1) Every person shall be able to acquire property alone or in association with others.
… (Sec. 28)

Property, Inheritance and Land Tenure

English

(1) All persons who have rights in property at the date of the commencement of this Constitution shall continue to have such rights under this Constitution and any other law.
… (Sec. 209)

Protection from Violence

English

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals—
(a) Gender Equality
To obtain gender equality through—

(iii) the implementation of policies to address social issues such as domestic violence, security of the person, lack of maternity benefits, economic exploitation and rights to property.
… (Sec. 13)

Protection from Violence

English

(3) No person shall be subject to torture of any kind or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

(5) No person shall be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation without his or her consent.
… (Sec. 19)

Protection from Violence

English

(2) Each member of the family shall enjoy full and equal respect and shall be protected by law against all forms of neglect, cruelty or exploitation.
… (Sec. 22)

Protection from Violence

English

(5) Children are entitled to be protected from economic exploitation or any treatment, work or punishment that is, or is likely to—
(a) be hazardous;
(b) interfere with their education; or
(c) be harmful to their health or to their physical, mental or spiritual or social development.
… (Sec. 23)

Protection from Violence

English

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—
(a) sexual abuse, harassment and violence;
… (Sec. 24)

Protection from Violence

English

(1) No person shall be held in slavery or servitude.
(2) Slavery and the slave trade are prohibited.
(3) No person shall be subject to forced labour.
(4) No person shall be subject to tied labour that amounts to servitude. (Sec. 27)

Public Institutions and Services

English

(1) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
... (Sec. 22)

Public Institutions and Services

English

(4) All children shall be entitled to reasonable maintenance from their parents, whether such parents are married, unmarried or divorced, and from their guardians; and, in addition, all children, and particularly orphans, children with disabilities and other children in situations of disadvantage shall be entitled to live in safety and security and, where appropriate, to State assistance.
… (Sec. 23)

Public Institutions and Services

English

(1) All persons and peoples have a right to development and therefore to the enjoyment of economic, social, cultural and political development and women, children and persons with disabilities in particular shall be given special consideration in the application of this right.
(2) The State shall take all necessary measures for the realization of the right to development. Such measures shall include, amongst other things, equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, shelter, employment and infrastructure.
(3) The State shall take measures to introduce reforms aimed at eradicating social injustices and inequalities.
(4) The State has a responsibility to respect the right to development and to justify its policies in accordance with this responsibility. (Sec. 30)

Status of the Constitution

English

This Constitution shall bind all executive, legislative and judicial organs of the State at all levels of Government and all the peoples of Malawi are entitled to the equal protection of this Constitution, and laws made under it.
(Sec. 4)

Status of the Constitution

English

Any act of Government or any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be invalid. (Sec. 5)

Status of the Constitution

English

(1) In the interpretation of all laws and in the resolution of political disputes the provisions of this Constitution shall be regarded as the supreme arbiter and ultimate source of authority.
(2) In the application and formulation of any Act of Parliament and in the application and development of the common law and customary law, the relevant organs of State shall have due regard to the principles and provisions of this Constitution. (Sec. 10)

Status of the Constitution

English

(1) Appropriate principles of interpretation of this Constitution shall be developed and employed by the courts to reflect the unique character and supreme status of this Constitution.
(2) In interpreting the provisions of this Constitution a court of law shall—
(a) promote the values which underlie an open and democratic society;
(b) take full account of the provisions of Chapter III and Chapter IV3 ; and
(c) where applicable, have regard to current norms of public international law and comparable foreign case law.
(3) Where a court of law declares an act of executive or a law to be invalid, that court may apply such interpretation of that act or law as is consistent with this Constitution.
(4) Any law that ousts or purports to oust the jurisdiction of the courts to entertain matters pertaining to this Constitution shall be invalid. (Sec. 11)

Status of the Constitution

English

(1) This Constitution is founded upon the following underlying principles—

(f) all institutions and persons shall observe and uphold this Constitution and the rule of law and no institution or person shall stand above the law.
… (Sec. 12)

Status of the Constitution

English

This Constitution shall have the status as supreme law and there shall be no legal or political authority save as is provided by or under this Constitution. (Sec. 199)

Status of the Constitution

English

Except in so far as they are inconsistent with this Constitution, all Acts of Parliament, common law and customary law in force on the appointed day shall continue to have force of law, as if they had been made in accordance with and in pursuance of this Constitution:
Provided that any laws currently in force may be amended or repealed by an Act of Parliament or be declared unconstitutional by a competent court. (Sec. 200)

Status of the Constitution

English

(3) Customary international law, unless inconsistent with this Constitution or an Act of Parliament, shall form part of the law of the Republic. (Sec. 211)

Status of International Law

English

(1) Appropriate principles of interpretation of this Constitution shall be developed and employed by the courts to reflect the unique character and supreme status of this Constitution.
(2) In interpreting the provisions of this Constitution a court of law shall—

(c) where applicable, have regard to current norms of public international law and comparable foreign case law.
… (Sec. 11)

Status of International Law

English

(1) No restrictions or limitations may be placed on the exercise of any rights and freedoms provided for in this Constitution other than those prescribed by law, which are reasonable, recognized by international human rights standards and necessary in an open and democratic society.
… (Sec. 44)

Status of International Law

English

(1) No derogation from rights contained in this Chapter shall be permissible save to the extent provided for by this section and no such derogation shall be made unless there has been a declaration of a state of emergency within the meaning of this section.
(2) There shall be no derogation with regard to—
(a) the right to life;
(b) the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(c) the prohibition of genocide;
(d) the prohibition of slavery, the slave trade and slave-like practices;
(e) the prohibition of imprisonment for failure to meet contractual obligations;
(f) the prohibition on retrospective criminalization and the retrospective imposition of greater penalties for criminal acts;
(g) the right to equality and recognition before the law;
(h) the right to freedom of conscience, belief, thought and religion and to academic freedom; or
(i) the right to habeas corpus.

(4) Derogation from the rights contained in this Chapter, other than the rights listed in subsection (2), shall be permissible during a state of emergency within the meaning of this section and to the extent that—
(a) such derogation is consistent with the obligations of Malawi under international law;
… (Sec. 45)

Status of International Law

English

The Law Commission shall have the powers—
(a) to review and make recommendations regarding any matter pertaining to the laws of Malawi and their conformity with this Constitution and applicable international law;
… (Sec. 135)

Status of International Law

English

(1) Any international agreement entered into after the commencement of this Constitution shall form part of the law of the Republic if so provided by an Act of Parliament.
(2) Binding international agreements entered into before the commencement of this Constitution shall continue to bind the Republic unless otherwise provided by an Act of Parliament.
(3) Customary international law, unless inconsistent with this Constitution or an Act of Parliament, shall form part of the law of the Republic. (Sec. 211)

Customary Law

English

(1) In the interpretation of all laws and in the resolution of political disputes the provisions of this Constitution shall be regarded as the supreme arbiter and ultimate source of authority.
(2) In the application and formulation of any Act of Parliament and in the application and development of the common law and customary law, the relevant organs of State shall have due regard to the principles and provisions of this Constitution. (Sec. 10)

Customary Law

English

(3) All men and women have the right to marry and found a family.
(4) No person shall be forced to enter into marriage.
(5) Subsections (3) and (4) shall apply to all marriages at law, custom and marriages by repute or by permanent cohabitation.
… (Sec. 22)

Customary Law

English

(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—
(a) sexual abuse, harassment and violence;
(b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs; and
(c) deprivation of property, including property obtained by inheritance. (Sec. 24)

Customary Law

English

(3) Parliament may make provision for traditional or local courts presided over by lay persons or chiefs:
Provided that the jurisdiction of such courts shall be limited exclusively to civil cases at customary law and such minor common law and statutory offences as prescribed by an Act of Parliament.
(4) Appeals from subordinate courts shall lie to the High Court, unless provided in this Constitution or by an Act of Parliament. (Sec. 110)

Customary Law

English

Except in so far as they are inconsistent with this Constitution, all Acts of Parliament, common law and customary law in force on the appointed day shall continue to have force of law, as if they had been made in accordance with and in pursuance of this Constitution:
Provided that any laws currently in force may be amended or repealed by an Act of Parliament or be declared unconstitutional by a competent court. (Sec. 200)

Women’s Rights

English

(1) Women have the right to full and equal protection by the law, and have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or marital status which includes the right—
(a) to be accorded the same rights as men in civil law, including equal capacity—
(i) to enter into contracts;
(ii) to acquire and maintain rights in property, independently or in association with others, regardless of their marital status;
(iii) to acquire and retain custody, guardianship and care of children and to have an equal right in the making of decisions that affect their upbringing; and
(iv) to acquire and retain citizenship and nationality.
(b) on the dissolution of marriage, howsoever entered into—
(i) to a fair disposition of property that is held jointly with a husband; and
(ii) to fair maintenance, taking into consideration all the circumstances and, in particular, the means of the former husband and the needs of any children.
(2) Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminate against women, particularly practices such as—
(a) sexual abuse, harassment and violence;
(b) discrimination in work, business and public affairs; and
(c) deprivation of property, including property obtained by inheritance. (Sec. 24)

1

Links to all sites last visited 2 March 2016

2

Chapter III – Fundamental Principles; Chapter IV – Human Rights.

3

Chapter III – Fundamental Principles; Chapter IV – Human Rights.