The Malawi Bail Project (MBP) is an initiative that aims at empowering poor and or marginalized people arrested with minor offences to enable them apply for bail at the police station or court without the use of a lawyer. Basically, this initiative was designed because many people arrested cannot afford to hire a lawyer because of poverty.
In order to achieve its goal which is ending overcrowding in places of detention; the project distributes, ‘understanding the right to bail’ booklets and posters to arrestees at magistrate courts and police stations, installs audio speaker systems at police and court holding cells which play recorded audio messages that demonstrate how to apply for bail but also provides a toll-free line to the arrestees and family their members to call and receive advice on how to apply for bail but also organize sureties.
During the 2020/2021 financial, the MBP project reached out to a total of 8,550 people. Out of these 8,550 people educated on court procedure and basic legal rights at Police stations, courts and prisons, 4,025 people were successfully granted bail which is an indication that the project has been a success.
CHREAA managed to achieve these remarkable results despite facing major challenges which included inadequate funding and Covid-19.
Kenneth Maseya, was arrested in April 2021 by Ndirande Police Station. He was arrested after a misunderstanding on a payment which came after he had sold tangerines to a business person at Ndirande Market who later lodged a complaint at the Police.
When Kenneth was taken to Ndirande Police Station, he was ordered to pay K20,000 to the business person which he did. Surprisingly, he was brought before the Blantyre Magistrate Court for trial, where got remanded to Chichiri Prison and spent the next four months.
CHREAA Paralegals were then approached on the matter by Kenneth’s relatives. They followed up on the case and established more details. They then approached the case prosecutor and Kenneth was then empowered by the paralegals on how to apply for bail.
Kenneth, was then taken to court for continuation of the trial. There, he made use of the skills he got from the paralegals on bail application. He was successful and was immediately released.