Chidawawa Mainje, 39-year-old Nurse in Malawi has been charged with cyber harassment and is likely to face up to five years in prison and a fine of $2,500 if guilty as charged.
Malawi police confirmed the arrest and detention of Mainje who was said to have insulted the president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera online. The police said the arrest of the nurse was in line with the “Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act 2016, which prohibits insulting someone online.”
The deputy spokesperson for the Malawi Police Service, Harry Namwaza in a statement, gave reasons why the arrest was made.
“You can’t enjoy your freedom or your rights while at the same time you are infringing the rights of others. It doesn’t work like that. There should be a responsibility. So, it’s a criminal offense. That’s why we have arrested him,” he said.
Last week, the police arrested a 51-year-old man for allegedly insulting the minister of labor in his WhatsApp group post. Human rights advocates have condemned Mainje’s arrest.
“The guy who was arrested was expressing an opinion which was not favorable to the president. But it’s within his right to express such views, and he is protected by Section 35 of our constitution,” Kayiyatsa said. “So, the best that police should have done is simply to provide advice, but this is somebody expressing their views,” said Michael Kayiyatsa is the executive director for the rights group, Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation.
Kayiyatsa said the arrest was a violation of one of the basic human rights, which is freedom of expression.
Kayiyatsa also revealed that more than 15 persons have been arrested in the past weeks for acting contrary to the legislation by expressing their opinions of government officials and associates since president Lazarus Chakwera took power nearly two years ago on the 28th June 2020.
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