The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) wants to have special warrant-free arrests to effectively fight corruption in Malawi, The Nation has learnt.
But Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale has said the bureau already has such powers.
ACB argues that some cases are compromised because it takes time for it to access warrants from courts and is now pushing for special occasions when the bureau should be mandated to make arrests without first getting warrants from courts.
The issue of arrests without warrants had in the past angered the public with fears that the system could be abused.
On Thursday, ACB spokesperson Egritta Ndala said having warrant-free arrests is one of the amendments the bureau proposed to the Corrupt Practices Act to ensure that the fight against corruption is effective.
She said the matter is in the hands of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and it is only after the law is amended that such arrests can be made.
Ndala said currently the bureau is still facing challenges in making some of the arrests that would be done on the spot.
But Kaphale on Thursday said the bureau already has powers to make arrests without having to rush to courts to get a warrant of arrest.
“If somebody is committing a crime, let us say he is breaking into someone’s house, do you have to rush to court to get a warrant of arrest? If you do that, you will not find the person. Even a private person can make an arrest,” said Kaphale
Kaphale’s position is shared by Chancellor College associate professor of law Mwiza Nkhata, who said he is yet to appreciate why the bureau is pushing for such a provision since under general criminal law, the bureau or any citizen can make an arrest.
Nkhata said there are special cases where the police, other security agents or the bureau can make arrests without warrants and there are also cases where arrests cannot be made without warrants.
He, however, said the involvement of courts in ACB cases is meant to check the powers of the bureau.
“If officers of the bureau stumble into an offence, they would not be stopped from making an arrest. Even citizens can make arrests,” said Nkhata.