BLANTYRE-- Various stakeholders have suggested Malawi requires concerted effort, including enactment of appropriate legislation, if the country is to have any success in combating human trafficking.
Panellists from Malawi Human Rights Commission, Malawi Law Commission and Parliament at a public discussion in Lilongwe agreed human trafficking, both internal and international is widespread, mostly due to high instances of poverty, especially among girls and women.
“Some of us here have left at home victims,” Assistant Chief Law Reform Officer at the Malawi law Commission, Chiza Nyirongo said referring domestic servants.
Nyirongo said there are various laws, among them the Penal Code, Immigration Act, Employment Act and Corrupt Practices Act which are currently used in human trafficking cases because each of them deals with some aspects of human trafficking, but added the country remains without a specific anti trafficking law.
Executive Director of the Malawi Human Rights Commission Grace Malera said a specific anti-trafficking law will can go a long way towards combating human trafficking because, among other things, it would identify a specific government ministry to provide leadership in dealing with the problem.
“At the moment there’s no leadership as various ministries tackle various aspects of trafficking. We need to deal with this problem in its entirety,” Malera suggested.
Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament Kezzie Msukwa said he recognises the need for an appropriate law for combating human trafficking and said Parliament does indeed have responsibility of passing such a law, but warned the law on its own may not be enough if various other stakeholders including the police, courts and immigration officers do not play their part of ensuring that effectiveness of the law.
Speaking earlier Programme Coordinator, responsible for prevention of trafficking in women and Children at the Norwegian Church Aid, Habiba Osman, said it was sad that at present, perpetrators of human trafficking are not adequately punished when caught.
“Among the challenges making it hard to combat human trafficking is the fact that both would be victims and duty bearers do not always recognise what is human trafficking. Human traffickers are often charged by lesser crimes, escaping with ridiculously minor fines or penalties,” Osman said.
The public discussion was organised by the NCA in collaboration with the Free Expression Institute and attended by over 100 participants, among them students, human rights activists, religious leaders and members of the general public.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.