Malawi Security Agencies geared to pound on terrorism, violent extremism and human
Malawi, Lilongwe, 11 October 2023 – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime provided technical and financial support to the Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Homeland Security for the development and adoption of the National Counter Terrorism and Prevention of Violent Extremism Strategy (2023 – 2028) and the National Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons (2023 – 2028).
The development of the National Plan of Action against trafficking in persons received support from the Swedish Government through the Global Programme against Trafficking in Persons.
The development of the counterterrorism strategy and the launch event were funded by the People’s Republic of China through the United Nations Peace and Development Fund, which aims to strengthen the capacity of SADC Member Countries to counter terrorism, violent extremism, and related organized crime threats through criminal justice responses.
The double launch of the National Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism Strategy (2023-2028) and National Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons(2023-2028) took place at Bingu International Conference Center in Lilongwe, Malawi on 3 October 2023.
Speaking during the Launch, the Minister of Homeland Honourable Dr. Kenneth Reeves Zikhale Ng’oma, M.P. said that both documents are important strategic blueprints that will guide Malawi’s government prevention and response to the transnational organized crimes of terrorism and trafficking in persons.
In her remarks during the Launch Ms. Jane Marie Ongolo, UNODC Regional Representative for Southern Africa, congratulated the Government of Malawi for its efforts on these new developments.
“UNODC ROSAF is confident that the interventions outlined in the two national strategies will improve Malawi coordination and response to Terrorism and Trafficking in Persons.” Said the Regional Representative.
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Ms. Rebecca Adda-Dontoh, said that human traffickers, migrant smugglers, terrorists and violent extremists are becoming more sophisticated, and the situation demands that stakeholders focus on prevention and coordinated approaches involving State authorities, UN agencies, development partners, civil society organizations and law enforcement agencies.
In his Goodwill video message, Mr. Masood, Karimipour, UNODC Chief, Terrorism Prevention Branch stated UNODC’s decade long support to Member States, insisting on the increased terrorist threat Southern Africa faces.
“Terrorist groups are engaged in extortion, looting, and trafficking. Conversely, terrorism financing has become an increasing issue of concern thanks to the increased operational capacity of the terrorist groups to generate revenues from transnational organized crime and other illicit activities, including taxation. Of other concern is the proliferation of attacks involving Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique”.
Trafficking in Persons
Malawi has taken important steps to strengthen its response to trafficking in persons (TIP). Trafficking in Malawi is fueled by significant economic hardship and increased unemployment leading to high numbers of Malawians travelling to seek opportunities abroad, exposing them to threats of exploitation and abuse. The enactment of a national legislation on TIP in 2015 (the Trafficking in Persons Act no. 3 of 2015) paved the way for the development of a strong anti-TIP response. The Act criminalizes TIP in line with the requirements of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Girls. The Act also takes a multi-dimensional approach by providing a framework for prevention and protection of victims of TIP such as the increased participation of communities and local institutions and the creation of shelters to provide care for victims.
Over the last year, terrorist groups have been increasingly active in the region, with reports of over 2,000 local recruits and fighters from across Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. Although, in recent years Malawi has not confronted terrorist attacks or violent extremism within its national territory, the government of Malawi remains concerned that Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a (ASWJ) could be expanding its influence to neighboring countries, as Islamic State cells in South Africa mediate networks between ASWJ and cells of IS supporters in Malawi. In January 2023, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) arrested an individual from Uganda in Katuli, at the border to Mozambique, linked to an ISIS sleeper cell in Malawi linked to an ISIS cell in South Africa. Malawi Police Service recently reported that ISIS cells have been trying to recruit villagers after establishing camps in remote regions. Until now, all these attempts have been foiled by the NIS.
Through its Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB), UNODC partnered with SADC and ACSRT/CAERT to provide technical assistance to Malawi through a regional project financed by the UN Peace and Development Fund (UNPDF). UNODC, in partnership with UNDP, IOM, UNFPA, and UN Women are currently implementing a ‘Border Districts and Community-Based Conflict Prevention and Peace Building’ project funded by the Governments of Iceland and Ireland. The project support efforts to enhance the country's national criminal justice responses to terrorism, and related transnational crime threats such as trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and the movement of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs).