14 April 2019

Malawi: Law Commission, Stakeholders Reviewing Malawi Citizenship Act

Lilongwe — Malawi Law Commission on Wednesday conducted a Central Region Consultative workshop to review the Malawi Citizenship Act meant to provide a forum for various stakeholders to discuss, share experiences and provide guidance on the reformed Act.

The day long workshop took place in Lilongwe at Sunbird Capital Hotel as the first of three regional workshops to be conducted as a mandate of the Law Commission to engage in substantive consultation exercises at various levels and different stages of the Law reform process.

Chairperson of the Special Law Commission on the review of Malawi Citizenship Act, Justice Rizine Mzikamanda told the stakeholders that the review would enable the special Law Commission to develop proposed legislation that reflects the wishes of Malawians and which is responsive to the rights and needs of the society, saying the developments outlined in the areas of citizenship Law indicate that the Act is outdated in some respect.

"This workshop seeks to solicit views from various stakeholders present in order that we enrich the review process of the Malawi Citizenship Act which we are undertaking.

"Malawi has ratified a number of international instruments which have a bearing on citizenship related matters. It is very important that we look at the laws again relating to citizenship generally because the 1966 law that we have is old, now that we have a new constitution in place, the 1994 constitution, it must be brought in tandem with the provisions of the new constitution," he pointed out.

Mzikamanda underlined that some of the gaps found in the citizenship Act like the missing of the duo citizenship part of it need to be reviewed to suit the present democratic and human rights environment, the social realities in our country as well as international standards.

"There are a number of things missing in the Citizenship Act like the duo citizenship part of it. Now that we have an approved law on duo citizenship in this country which is operational, we need to bring it in tandem with the rest of the citizenship Act itself.

"There have been important changes and developments in our Laws as well as the social environment. The 1966 Republican constitution upon which the Act was based did not have a strong foundation of human rights. The 1994 Act is strongly founded on the protection and promotion of Human Rights and democratic governance," he explained.

Chief Law Reform Officer, William Msiska urged different stakeholders at the workshop to use that as an opportunity to actively contribute towards the Law reform process.

"This workshop presents an opportunity for you to give your comments and observations on the issues so far considered by the special Law Commission on the review of the Malawi Citizenship Act.

This is your opportunity to engage with the special Law Commission and suggest other relevant issues which the special Law Commission should consider with respect to the matter being reviewed," he said.

The Law Commission is an independent body established under the constitution of the Republic of Malawi to review and make recommendations regarding any matter pertaining to the laws of Malawi. It also plays an advisory role to government on matters of law reform and law development.

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