Media in Malawi develop guidelines for reporting on Trafficking in Persons  

On 24 February 2020, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Malawi engaged editors and reporters selected by media houses on recommendation from the Ministry of Homeland Security to develop guidelines on accurate and victim-sensitive reporting on trafficking in persons.

Media editors and reporters were trained on victim-sensitive reporting on trafficking in persons (TIP) and were equipped with technical knowledge on how to carry out investigative journalism relating to TIP.

At the opening ceremony in Blantyre, UNODC National Project Officer Maxwell Matewere noted that the training was organised for media practitioners to report accurately and write stories on human trafficking with a balanced, victim-sensitive approach.

The training workshop gathered reporters and editors from a wide range of media outlets in Malawi across electronic and print categories. It was facilitated by Wisdom Chimgwede, a renowned and award-winning investigative journalist. The legal aspects of the training were handled by High Court of Malawi Justice Zione Ntaba.

During her presentations, Justice Ntaba showed how the media in Malawi was disregarding the law in the sensationalist quest to cover TIP issues, and said she was confident that this would change with the knowledge that the workshop offered.

Speaking on the side of the training one of the editors for state owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Beatrice Juma lauded UNODC's initiative highlighting the value it will add to reportage on TIP in Malawi:

"This training helps us as editors to depart from the practice of dispatching reporters to cover or undertake TIP related assignments without proper mentoring and guidelines. It is also helping reporters to have knowledge of TIP and to learn how they can investigate the hidden issues of TIP".

Her remarks were echoed by Pilirani Kachinziri, editor with the Times Group, one of Malawi's biggest private media companies:

"In my view this workshop has helped us understand why we should not take some things for granted including disclosure of identities for survivors. This is an eye opener and will help us improve the quality of investigative pieces that we will be doing".

One of the reporters attending the workshop Grace Kantchentche, from Capital FM Radio, said the training had already proved on the very first day to be critical in her journalism carrier:

"With this training we will be able to track and trace issues of TIP which we have been confusing with other crimes therefore giving our audiences in-depth understanding of the matters in order to serve the citizens of the country".

This activity is part of a joint project of UNODC with the Government of Malawi funded by the United Kingdom, named " Strengthening the implementation of a comprehensive response to trafficking in persons in Zambia". This project contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in particular, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on the strengthening of peace, justice and strong institutions.