The Malawi Police has arrested Maravi Post reporter Dorica Mtenje for what it says is her conduct that led to the breaching of the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act. It is being said that the arrest is in connection with a fake story that attacked the National Intelligence Bureau (ACB).
Mtenje is being kept at the Police headquarters in the capital Lilongwe. Meanwhile, Lloyd M’bwana connected with the same publication has also been summoned by the Police for questioning.
In a statement, MISA Malawi engaged the police over the issue during which the MPS National Spokesperson Peter Kalaya said the police ‘invited’ Mtenje and M’bwana, journalists connected to the publication, as part of their investigation on the alleged ‘fake story’ that was published by the online news source.
Kalaya said the police were only acting on a complaint by the National Intelligence Service Director. According to Kalaya, the content of the story contravenes Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act and they are just enforcing the law.
“MISA Malawi has been advocating for civil remedies in issues of defamation as opposed to criminal defamation remedies that the country is following. We, therefore, call on both the complainant to withdraw the criminal defamation complaint and the police to release the detained journalist. MISA Malawi is monitoring the situation and will be providing updates as events unfold,” conclude the statement.
The Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act, of 2016 creates a number of offenses. For instance, section 87 prohibits offensive communication. The provision provides that “Any person who wilfully and repeatedly uses electronic communication to disturb or attempts to disturb the peace, quietness or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication whether or not a conversation ensues, commits a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction, be liable to a fine of K1,000,000 and to imprisonment for twelve months.”
Section 88 prohibits cyberstalking. It provides that “Any person who wilfully, maliciously, and repeatedly uses electronic communication to harass another person and makes a threat with the intent to instill reasonable fear in that person for his safety or to a member of that person’s immediate family, commits an offense known as cyberstalking and shall, upon conviction, be liable to a fine of K1,000,000 and to imprisonment for twelve months.”