Malawi Parliament to discuss human trafficking bill

Members of Parliament (MPs) will discuss the Trafficking in Persons Bill, according to Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security Principal Secretary Beston Chisamile.

Chisamile said in Lilongwe Tuesday night at an interface meeting organized by Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) with parlimantary committes on Defense and Security, Legal Affairs and Social andCommunity Affairs.

Habiba Osman: Need for legislation
Habiba Osman: Need for legislation

“There have been some delays in bringing the Bill before parliament which was the result of some drafting process but lucky enough, it seems all is done and it will be debated during the sitting of this Parliament.

“We need the Bill enacted into law some way back and it is our plea that after it is passed into law, MPs should be on the forefront to reach out to religious and traditional leaders for public awareness,” he said.

MHRC Chairperson Sophie Kalinde said the proposed law has gone through a long process of development which dates back to 2007 when a special law commission to develop the bill was set up.

“The enactment of the Bill will certainly mark a milestone in the promotion and protection of vulnerable categories in our society such as women and children.

“Trafficking is without a doubt a form of modern day slavery which culminates in the exploitation of countless children, women and men around the world for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation and in some cases for organ removal,” she said.

Recently, Kalinde said they intercepted 27 girls and boys who were being trafficked from Mangochi to Tanzania.

“Endemic poverty, the HIV and AIDS epidemic that escalates the problemof orphanhood and destitution renders children vulnerable to trafficking,” she said.

Habiba Osman, one of the country’s top human rights lawyers, said many children from Malawi are also taken to other neighbouring countries, such as Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa, where they are forced into the sex trade and/or domestic slavery.

Osman said “it’s high time lawmakers put tough human trafficking laws in place.”

Apart from the Child Care Protection and Justice Act of 2010 where child trafficking is a criminal offense attracting a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, Malawi is mostly using other laws that prohibit some elements of trafficking such as the Employment Act and Article135 through 147, 257 and 269 of the Penal Code.

Malawi Police Service Child Protection Officer Alexander Ngwara said last year, 119 victims of trafficking were rescued, 32 child traffickers were arrested and 15 of them convicted.

In 2011 US state department published a report that named Malawi as a source country for men, women and children to be trafficked for forced labour and sex.

The authors said the Malawi government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but was making significant efforts to do so.

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