Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: High Court in Malawi grants a 7-day injunction blocking government from implementing nationwide movement restrictions from April 18.

This alert affects Malawi

This alert began 17 Apr 2020 17:17 GMT and is scheduled to expire 23 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Lockdown Court Ruling
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: April 17
  • Impact: Possible protests

Summary
The High Court in Malawi has granted a 7-day injunction on April 17 blocking the government from implementing 21-day nationwide movement restrictions from April 18. The injunction came after the opposition-aligned human rights group, Malawi Human Rights Defenders Coalition (MHRDC) filed a legal complaint against the impending nationwide stay-at-home order saying that the government had failed to prepare any form of relief for citizens affected by the closure of nonessential businesses and restrictions on travel.

It is likely that the government will abide by the 7-day injunction due to widespread unpopularity with the decision to implement nationwide stay-at-home measures, including among ruling party supporters. However, violent protests are possible should the government reject the court ruling and attempt to enforce the lockdown in the coming days.

Minister of Health and Population Jappie Mhango stated April 15 that a 21-day nationwide stay-at-home order would commence April 18-May 9 as part of measures to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The decision prompted protests in several areas of Malawi April 16-17, including in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Limbe, Mangochi, Kasungu, and Mzuzu. Protesters blocked roads with rocks, trees, burning tires, and other debris, leading to clashes with security forces.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for disruptive measures or restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

Avoid all protests due to possible clashes. If violence breaks out, seek shelter in a non-governmental building. Maintain contact with your embassy. Confirm all business appointments.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int