Attorney General is the principal law officer of the government and is appointed by the President. The Attorney General may be a Minister responsible for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. The current Attorney General is a public officer. If the Attorney General is a public officer, he or she may serve a term of five years, unless he or she resigns, retires or until the expiry of the President’s term of office, whichever comes sooner.
The President may remove the incumbent for incompetence or misconduct. The Attorney General, on top of advising government, takes up litigation on behalf of government and government departments. The office of the Attorney General also coordinates legal issues within government departments, statutory corporations, and all three arms of government. In essence, this office interacts with almost all other players in the democratic governance sector. The Attorney General’s offices are located at the Ministry of Justice in Lilongwe. The Attorney General has a national reach through State Advocate offices and directly supervises the civil litigation Section which is headed by the Chief State Advocate
The Drafting Section in the Ministry of Justice has its offices at the Ministry’s Headquarters at Capital Hill in Lilongwe. It is headed by the Chief Legislative Counsel (CLC) who is appointed by the President. The CLC is assisted by the Assistant Chief Legislative Counsel, Legislative Counsel, Assistant Legislative Counsel of various grades.
The specific objectives and core functions of the Drafting Section are to:
- Provide drafting services to Government ministries and departments.
- Ensure that laws are amended to respond to the upcoming socio-economic needs of the people of Malawi.
- Advise Government ministries and departments on the need to amend the statutes governing their respective duties (or functions) in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.
- Ensure that all laws in Malawi are drafted in a manner that reflects the values and aspirations of the people of Malawi.
- Give sound, quality and effective legal advice to Government ministries and departments.
- Respond timely to legal problems arising out of the obligations of Government.
- Give the necessary support to Government in preparation and negotiation of agreements and other legal arrangements
Responsibilities of Officers in the Section are responsible:
- Drafting and processing of principal legislation, including Financial and Loan Authorization or Ratification Bills for consideration by Parliament.
- Drafting and vetting of subsidiary legislation, including regulations, rules, by-laws on behalf of Government ministries and departments.
- Assisting Government ministries in preparing cabinet papers.
- Facilitating training workshop on the drafting of legal documents.
- Assisting Government in negotiating international agreements, including negotiations on loan and grant agreements.
- Drafting and vetting of agreements, contracts and other legal instruments on behalf of Government ministries and departments.
- Provision of legal advice to Government ministries and departments
The Human Rights Section in the Ministry of Justice was set up to coordinate human rights issues. The Section is responsible for state party reporting to United Nations treaty bodies and African Union human rights system. The Section also coordinates human rights issues on behalf of the Ministry by working hand in hand with other Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and civil society organizations.
The Section has four state advocates and two assistant legal officers. Presently, the Section is working on the National Human Rights Action Plan in corroboration with the Malawi Human Rights Commission. In terms of state party reports, the following are currently being drafted:
- African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Protocol on the Rights of Women
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Convention Against Torture
- Convention Against Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The second cycle review of Malawi under the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations took place in May 2015. The National Task Force on UPR has been tasked to coordinate the implementation of the recommendations Malawi received during the review.