Malawi judge says trafficking in persons law timely

Chairperson of the Malawi Judiciary Training Committee, Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale says the newly enacted Trafficking in Persons Law will go a long way in helping legal practitioners  implement the statute competently.

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Justice Chifundo Kachale: Courts should hand down appropriate decisions

Kachale observed that the new law on trafficking in persons had come at an opportune time when the courts were grappling with the crisis of abductions of people with albinism as such the statute would guide judges and magistrates to carry out their functions competently.

“It is one thing to have a law in place and yet another to put in practice, therefore the new law captures such elements like standard proof to be applied and different incidents in court during a criminal trial,” Kachale observed.

Kachale was speaking in Mangochi in an interview on the sidelines of a two day judicial workshop on trafficking in persons Act funded by the US Embassy through the UN office on drugs and crime.

He added that it was important for the judiciary which was responsible for enforcement and implementation of various pieces of legislation to have adequate knowledge and understanding of the new law in order to competently discharge its duties.

“It would only be plausible for the courts to be handing down appropriate decisions to enjoy the confidence and trust of the society on different issues in courts. More importantly, it is the wish of the courts to be seen doing justice for the people of Malawi,” Kachale said.

Kachale pointed out that the training would address capacity gaps existing in the judiciary surrounding jurisprudence to effectively deal with issues of child and human trafficking which were on the increase in the region.

“The Law Commission Report of 2011 clearly stipulated that it would be extremely difficult to prosecute anyone caught in trafficking in persons in the absence of a well defined statute,” he said.

He said the judicial colloquium on trafficking in persons would provide an important platform to the judges and magistrates to have a well spelt framework through learning from experiences and comparisons from experts on such a law in the region.

Deputy Head of Mission in the US Embassy, Michael Gonzales said trafficking in persons was not only a regional problem considering that the scope and magnitude of the same was enormous raging across the globe.

Gonzales said at least 20 million people worldwide are feared to be victims of human trafficking.

“These individuals are denied the most basic of freedoms, such as choosing where to live and work and being free from harm or threats of harm to themselves or their families,” said Gonzales.

He said Malawi is a source country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.

However, Gonzales recollected that over the past three years there has been a steady increase in anecdotal accounts and media reports of instances of human trafficking.

“Unfortunately, that is why we have to go on in understanding and assessing the full extent of human trafficking in Malawi. Until last year, and the passage of the trafficking in persons Act of 2015, human trafficking, as such, was not a distinct crime,” he observed.

“A law is only useful when it is fully and fairly implemented. With this law, Malawian courts no longer have to decipher a patchwork of laws to prosecute trafficking crimes,” he added.

On this note, Gonzales applauded Malawi Government for the numerous steps she has taken to combat the scourge of trafficking, adding that the US Government looks forward to seeing the Act being implemented to the fullest.

“I would like to assure you that the US will continue to be your steadfast partner in this endeavour and we stand ready to offer assistance as needed,” he pledged.

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