The High Court in Blantyre on Friday delivered a judgment that found the lower court’s orders detaining children in Police custody unlawful.
The presiding Judge John Chirwa stated that the applicants’ detention in Limbe Police Station was unlawful, and the court ordered their immediate release from custody.
The applicants are eight children that appeared before the Child Justice Court for various offences and were remanded in police custody at Limbe Police Station before a finding against them was made.
The children brought an application for review challenging their detention into Police custody as being unlawful.
The children were represented by Chikondi Chijozi of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Ruth Kaima from the Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance.
In his ruling, Justice Chirwa agreed with the applicants and stated that the detention of the applicants in police custody interfered with their health, physical, psychological, emotional growth and development, which is contrary to section 23 of the Constitution and Article 3 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The High Court went further to state that the lower court did not inspect or have knowledge of the environment they were remanding the children in as they did not find out whether the environment had adequate provision and recreation facilities.
Justice Chirwa stated that any decision against the above provisions is unconstitutional and not in line with Malawi’s international obligations.
Justice Chirwa further compelled all lower courts to take the necessary steps to ensure that children are not put in undesirable environments and conditions that will be hazardous to their health, growth, and nutritional needs.
The Court further held that the lower courts’ orders of detention did not take into account the different ages of the children and their vulnerabilities and therefore violated section 42(2)(g) of the Constitution.
The Court found that the lower courts’ orders of detention of children into police custody is contrary to sections 88 and 96 of the Child Care Protection and Justice Act
Consequently, Justice Chirwa has ordered the release of the Applicants since there are no safety homes in line with section 157 of the Child Care Protection and Justice Act.
The Court has further ordered the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare to, within 30 days, open and designate safety homes as per its mandate under section 157 of the Child Care Protection and Justice Act and that the safety homes should have regard to the Third Schedule to the Act and the best interests of the children.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :