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Features of Constitution1

Is there a constitution? Yes
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion? Yes


Constitution Year 1994
Last Amended 2001
Source Malawi SDNP
Translation Original was written in English
Current as of 1998 (later amendments not included)

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)2

Article 13: Principle of National Policy

The State shall actively promote the welfare and development of the people of Malawi by progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation aimed at achieving the following goals:
…(f) Education
To provide adequate resources to the education sector and devise programs in order to -
…(iv) promote national goals such as unity and the elimination of political, religious, racial and ethnic intolerance.

Article 20: Equality

1. Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are, under any law, guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.
2. Legislation may be passed addressing inequalities in society and prohibiting discriminatory practices and the propagation of such practices and may render such practices criminally punishable by the courts.

Article 33: Freedom of conscience

Every person has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, belief and thought, and to academic freedom.

Article 42: Arrest, detention and fair trial

1. Every person who is detained, including every sentenced prisoner, shall have the right -
…d. to be given the means and opportunity to communicate with, and to be visited by, his or her spouse, partner, next-of-kin, relative, religion counselor and a medical practitioner of his or her choice;

Article 44: Limitations on rights

1. There shall be no derogation, restrictions or limitation with regard to -
…h. the right to freedom of conscience, belief, thought and religion and to academic freedom; or
2. Without prejudice to subsection (1), no restrictions or limitations may be placed on the exercise of any rights and freedoms provided for in this Constitution other than those prescribed by law, which are reasonable, recognized by international human rights standards and necessary in an open and democratic society.

Article 68: Composition of the Senate

1. The Senate shall consist of eighty members as follows -
…c. thirty-two other Senators who shall be elected by a two-thirds majority of sitting members of the Senate on the basis of nominations by the Nominations Committee provided for in subsection (2) from all of the following sectors -
…iii. religion, who shall include representatives of the major religious faiths in Malawi.

Article 81: Oath of office

1. Before a person elected to be President or First Vice-President or appointed to be First Vice-President or Second Vice-President takes office that person shall take the following oath which shall be administered in public by the Chief Justice-
" solemnly swear that I will well and truly perform the functions of the high office of President (or Vice-President) of the Republic of Malawi, and that I will preserve and defend the Constitution, and that I will do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favor, affection or ill-will. So help me God."


1.  Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  The constitutional excerpts shown above are reproduced from the websites given in the "Source" field; the links to these websites were active as of May 2011. Where the constitutional text shown on these websites was provided in a language other than English, this text was translated to English by ARDA staff with assistance from web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish. Constitutional text was converted to American English where applicable. Constitutional clauses were judged to contain religious content based largely on the standards used in the construction of the Religion and State Constitutions Dataset collected by Jonathan Fox. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to highlight religious content in articles that also contain content that does not pertain to matters of religion. The data on this page were correct to the best of the knowledge of the ARDA as of the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

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