Malawi Prison Audit Report: Prisons not used primarily as a measure of last resort

The Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI) conducted a Prison Audit Survey during the period 5 June- 29 September 2023. The aim of the survey was to explore the composition and status of the prisoners for data driven methodologies to inform justice reform. The support for the survey was covered by Irish Embassy and Irish Rule of Law International.

After interviewing 2,409 prisoners (about 90% of prison population in Maula, Kachere and Mzuzu Prisons), the results provide some useful insights for access to justice

  • Poverty is the key determinant of whether a person is held in prison
  • ‘Equality of arms’ in theory; not working in practice
  • Majority of remand prisoners eligible for release:
    ▪ Sixty-six percent (66%) Maula + Kachere prisons
    ▪ Sixty-seven percent (67%) Mzuzu prison
  • Majority of sentenced prisoners eligible for release:
    ▪ Eighty percent (80%) Maula + Kachere prisons
    ▪ Sixty-six percent (66%) Mzuzu prison
  • High proportion of remand ‘overstayers’ and sentenced prisoners not confirmed by High Court

These findings have given a good platform for PASI to engage the key stakeholders for immediate policy actions towards enhancing access to justice for the poor and vulnerable Malawians.

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