The Presumption of Innocence and Pretrial Detention in Malawi
Malawi Law Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, p. 124, 2010
18 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2010 Last revised: 30 Nov 2010
Date Written: June 1, 2010
Malawi is one of the few countries in the world that explicitly protects the right to be presumed innocent before and during trial in its Constitution. While many countries today claim to uphold this right, most of them apply it only after trial has commenced-when it is arguably too late for the defendant to prepare an adequate defense. These countries have in effect chosen to prevent crime at the expense of the constitutional liberty of their citizens. While some Malawian courts have generally upheld the presumption of innocence before trial statutory law allows them to consider the nature of the crime the defendant has allegedly committed in determining whether to grant bail or not. Courts should abide by the precepts of the Constitution and preserve the presumption of innocence before trial to avoid predictions of guilt and detention before trial as a means of crime control. Moreover, streamlining bail procedures for all criminal defendants and involving communities in bail procedures could strengthen the right to liberty and contribute to the fulfillment of the promises of dignity and freedom guaranteed to all individuals in the Constitution.
Keywords: Malawi, Bail, Pretrial Crime, Constitution, Presumption, Innocence, Defendant
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