By MISA Zimbabwe
A Malawi man has been arrested over a Facebook post in which he allegedly advised his compatriots to continuously check their bank accounts as money was being stolen in financial institutions.
Ignatius Kamwanje was arrested over a Facebook post that money had gone missing at the National Bank of Malawi. He also claimed that there was a cartel that was stealing money at the bank leading to four arrests.
Kamwanje further claimed that his relative had lost 2,8 million Malawian kwacha at the bank.
The bank then reported the matter to the police, as they said the claims were untrue, leading to Kamwanje’s arrest.
MISA Zimbabwe position
It is worrying that citizens across the region continue to face arrests for allegedly publishing falsehoods.
MISA believes that if the bank felt aggrieved by the post, there are other remedies that it could have sought, such as civil lawsuits, rather than cause the arrest over a Facebook post.
Such laws have the effect of inculcating a sense of self-censorship, where citizens are not allowed to express themselves freely.
It is particularly concerning that this arrest comes after Southern African leaders agreed to take “pre-emptive measures” against social media abuse.
We remind Malawian authorities that they have a duty to observe digital rights and observe freedom of expression online as pronounced by the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms.