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Malawi only adopted dedicated and detailed counterterrorism criminal provisions in 2022, in an amendment to its Criminal Code. A 2017 financial crimes law defined terrorism with a limited carve-out for the exercise of certain fundamental rights.

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

The revised Criminal Code defines terrorism as follows:

(a) an act or omission whether committed in or outside Malaŵi, which constitutes an offence within the scope of the United Nations counter-terrorism conventions; and

(b) an act, or threat of action in or outside Malaŵi which—

  (i) involves serious bodily harm to a person;
  (ii) involves serious damage to property;
  (iii) endangers the life of a person;
  (iv) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public;
  (v) involves the use of firearms or explosives;
  (vi) involves releasing into the environment or any part thereof, or distributing or exposing the public or any part thereof, to any dangerous, hazardous, radioactive or harmful substance; any toxic chemical; or any microbial or other biological agent or toxin;
  (vii) is designed or intended to disrupt any computer system or the provision of services directly related to communications infrastructure, banking or financial services, utilities, transportation or other essential infrastructure;
  (viii) is designed or intended to disrupt the provision of essential emergency services such as police, civil, defence or medical services;
  (ix) prejudices national security or public safety; or
  (x) involves participating in the activities of a terrorist group, including the supplying of information or material resources, or the funding of its activities in any way, with knowledge of the fact that such participation will contribute to the criminal activities of the group, 

and is intended, or by its nature and context, may reasonably be regarded as being intended, to intimidate the public or a section of the public; or compel a government or an international organization to do, or refrain from doing, an act; or seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental, political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organization, 

and for the purpose of advancing a political, ideological, or religious cause; 

but does not include an act which disrupts any services, and is committed in pursuance of a protest, demonstration or stoppage of work, as long as, and as long as only, the act is not intended to result in any harm referred to in this paragraph.S. 4, Penal Code of Malawi.

There is thus a limited carve-out for the exercise of certain fundamental human rights.

Previously the 2006 Terrorist Financing Act had defined "terrorist financing" as follows:

directly or indirectly providing or accumulating funds or other goods, or attempts to do so, with the intent that the funds be used or knowledge that the funds will be used in whole or in part to commit- 

(a) an act constituting an offence in regard to and in accordance with the definition of one treaties listed in the appendix to the international convention for the suppression of the Financing of Terrorism to which Malawi is a party, or 

(b) any act intended to cause the death of or serious bodily injury to any civilian or any other person not directly involved in a situation of armed conflict if, by virtue its nature or context, such act is intended to intimidate a population or compel a government or international organization to perform or refrain from performing an act of any kind.S. 2, 2006 Terrorist Financing Law.

In July 2022, a group of stakeholders identified the need to adopt comprehensive domestic counterterrorism law. This occurred with the revision of the Criminal Code in December 2022.

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Malawi is a State Party to the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention State Party


Malawi is also a State Party to one of the two regional treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1999 Algiers Convention State Party
2004 Protocol to the Algiers Convention State not party

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

Section 76(1) of the 2006 Terrorism Financing Law punishes funding terrorism or terrorist organizations with fifteen years in prison.

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

The Malawi Police Service is the national law enforcement agency. It does not have a dedicated counterterrorism unit.


Malawi 2006 Law on Terrorist Financing

Malawi 2017 Financial Crimes Act (No 14 of 2017)

Malawi Criminal Code (2014 version)

Malawi Penal Code (Amendment) Bill (2022)