Malawi High Court sets aside vagrancy convictions

The Malawi High Court has quashed the convictions of 24 people, primarily women, for the vagrancy offence of ‘being idle and disorderly persons.’

In January 2017, the Malawi High Court ruled that the offence of being a rogue and vagabond was unconstitutional. Police often used that offence to arrest people in sweeping exercises. Since then the police have arbitrarily used the offence of being "an idle and disorderly person" to arrest people during sweeping exercises, even if the elements of the offence have not been met. 

Malawi’s High Court on 22 December 2017 quashed the convictions of 24 people and ordered that the fines they paid be returned. The applicants were represented by Gift Katundu and supported by the "Petty Offence" campaign partners, the Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice And Assistance (CHREAA) and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). ACJR is a member of this campaign. 

Here is the press release issued by SALC. 



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