Official Secrets Acts
- Commenced on 16 May 1913
- [This is the version of this document at 31 December 2014.]
- [Note: This version of the Act was revised and consolidated in the Fifth Revised Edition of the Laws of Malawi (L.R.O. 1/2018), by the Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice under the authority of the Revision of the Laws Act.]
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Official Secrets Act.
2. InterpretationIn this Act unless the context otherwise requires—Any reference to a place belonging to the Government includes a place belonging to any department of the Government whether the place is or is not actually vested in the Government;expressions referring to communicating or receiving include any communicating or receiving, whether in whole or in part, and whether the sketch, plan, model, article, note, document, or information itself or the substance, effect, or description thereof only be communicated or received; expressions referring to obtaining or retaining any sketch, plan, model, article, note, or document, include the copying or causing to be copied the whole or any part of any sketch, plan, model, article, note, or document, and expressions referring to the communication of any sketch, plan, model, article, note or document include the transfer or transmission of the sketch, plan, model, article, note or document;“document” includes part of a document;“model” includes design, pattern, and specimen;“munitions of war” includes the whole or any part of any ship, submarine, aircraft, tank or similar engine, arms and ammunition, torpedo, or mine, intended or adapted for use in war, and any other article, material, or device, whether actual or proposed, intended for such use;“offence under this Act” includes any act, omission, or other thing which is punishable under this Act;“office under the Government” includes any office or employment in or under any department of the Government;“sketch” includes any photograph or other mode of representing any place or thing;“superintendent of police” includes the person charged with the command, direction and superintendence of the police in any District.
3. Penalties for spying
4. Wrongful communication, etc of information
5. Definition of prohibited placeFor the purpose of this Act, the expression “prohibited place” means—
6. Unauthorized use of uniforms; falsification of reports, forgery, personation and false documents
7. Evidence of espionage
8. Interfering with officers of the police or members of the armed forces of MalawiNo person in the vicinity of any prohibited place shall obstruct, knowingly mislead or otherwise interfere with or impede, the Commissioner of Police or police officer, or any member of the armed forces of Malawi engaged on guard, sentry, patrol, or other similar duty in relation to the prohibited place, and, if any person acts in contravention of, or fails to comply with, this provision, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
9. Power to require the production of telegrams
10. Registration and regulation of persons carrying on the business of receiving postal packets
11. Duty of giving information as to commission of offencesIt shall be the duty of every person to give on demand to the Commissioner of Police, or to a superintendent of police, or to any member of the armed forces of Malawi engaged on guard, sentry, patrol, or other similar duty, any information in his power relating to an offence or suspected offence under this Act, and, if so required, and upon tender of his reasonable expenses to attend at such reasonable time and place as may be specified for the purpose of furnishing such information, and, if any person fails to give any such information or to attend as aforesaid, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
12. Attempts, incitements, etcAny person who attempts to commit any offence under this Act, or solicits or incites or endeavors to persuade another person to commit an offence, or aids or abets or does any act preparatory to the commission of an offence under this Act, shall be guilty of a felony or a misdemeanor according as the offence in question is a felony or a misdemeanor and shall be liable to the same punishment, and to be proceeded against in the same manner, as if he had committed the offence.
13. Penalties for harbouring spiesIf any person knowingly harbors any person whom he knows, or has reasonable grounds for supposing, to be a person who is about to commit or who has committed an offence under this Act, or knowingly permits to meet or assemble in any premises in his occupation or under his control any such persons, or if any person having harbored any such person, or permitted to meet or assemble in any premises in his occupation or under his control any such persons, willfully omits or refuses to disclose to a superintendent of police any information which it is in his power to give in relation to any such person he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
14. Power to arrestAny person who is found committing an offence under this Act whether that offence is a felony or not, or who is reasonably suspected of having committed, or having attempted to commit, or being about to commit, such an offence, may be apprehended and detained in the same manner as a person who is found committing a felony.
15. Appointment of additional officers of policeThe Minister may for the purpose of this Act confer on any person the powers and rank of an officer of police.
16. Power to convict person charged with felony under Act of misdemeanor under ActAny person charged with an offence which is a felony under this Act may, if the circumstances warrant such a finding, be found guilty of an offence which is a misdemeanor under this Act.
17. Provisions as to trial and punishment of offences
18. Restriction on prosecutionA prosecution for an offence under this Act shall not be instituted except by, or with the consent of, the Director of Public Prosecutions:Provided that a person charged with such an offence may be arrested, or a warrant for his arrest may be issued and executed, and any such person may be remanded in custody or on bail, notwithstanding that the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions to the institution of a prosecution of the offence has not been obtained, but no further or other proceedings shall be taken until that consent has been obtained.
19. Search warrantsIf a magistrate is satisfied by information on oath that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence under this Act has been or is about to be committed, he may grant a search warrant authorizing any constable named therein to enter at any time any premises or place named in the warrant, if necessary, by force, and to search the premises or place and every person found therein, and to seize any sketch, plan, model, article, note or document or anything of a like nature or anything which is evidence of an offence under this Act having been or being about to be committed, which he may find on the premises or place or on any such person, and with regard to or in connexion with which he has reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence under this Act has been or is about to be committed.
20. Trial of offences
History of this document
16 May 1913