Malawi govt blamed for increased child trafficking cases

Fingers of blame are pointing at Malawi government authorities for the increased cases of child trafficking in the country.

The blame largely stems from the reluctance of government authorities to take the anti-human trafficking bill into parliament despite its approval by the cabinet some years ago.

The panelist on the Radio Islam’s hottest panel discussion program Contemporary Issuessaid the absence of the law on human trafficking prevents courts from punishing the culprits.

Matewere: Cited human rights issues

One of the panelists, the Executive Director of a child rights organization, Eye of the Child, Maxwell Matewere cited several examples in which human traffickers were given lenient and irrelevant court sentences despite pleading guilty to the human tracking.

“There was case in 2007 in which one street kid who was ‘trafficked’ from Mozambique had his private parts severed by child traffickers here in Malawi. But the culprits were instead charged with grievous harm because the laws of Malawi do not recognize child trafficking.”

Modern slavery

Matewere said it is very unfortunate that until now Malawi do not have a law on human trafficking which is ranked the fourth most organized and lucrative illegal businesses in the world.

He described the practice as a ‘modern-age-slave trade’ as most of the victims end up in suffering various abuses wherever they are taken to just as was the case with the abolished slave trade.

Matewere said his organization is doing what it takes to ensure the parliament passes the law by the end of this year. He said among other initiatives is to work with organizations that are pushing for the enactment of the law on human trafficking.

Hastings Jumbe and a Malawi correspondent for SABC’s Channel Africa and Christopher Sande, a journalist with Radio Maria are among journalists who are in the media taskforce which is lobbying for the passing of the law.

They said they are working to tour various rural areas to sensitize people on the vice which statistics show that between 1000 and 1, 500 people in Malawi especially children have been trafficked per year since 1998.

One of the country’s practicing lawyers Yusufu Nthenda conceded that it has been difficult or rather impossible for the courts to convict human traffickers because there is no law in Malawi’s penal code that punishes the culprits.

However contributors to the weekly program which is hosted by Amadu Rashid Mapila, said as Malawians wait for parliament to pass the law, they should also be on guard against the practice in their respective communities.

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