UNODC and COMESA strengthen Malawi Judiciary on Asset Forfeiture

Blantyre Malawi August 2022 - The UNODC, through the Global Program Against Money Laundering in collaboration with the Common Market of South and Eastern Africa (COMESA), organised and hosted a train the trainer workshop on asset forfeiture for the Malawi Judiciary from 18-19 August 2022.

The workshop was preceded by the launch of a Handbook on Asset Forfeiture, which the UNODC produced with financial support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Organization (FCDO). The asset forfeiture handbook was developed following a request by the former Chief Justice of the Malawi Judiciary, Justice Andrew Nyirenda S.C., during an anti-corruption scoping mission conducted by the UNODC and the UN Malawi Office in March 2021.

During the scoping mission, the Chief Justice indicated that the Judiciary was in the process of establishing a Financial and Economics Crime Division of the High Court and had set up a Taskforce to move the establishment process. This division would be responsible for handling all financial and economic crimes such as corruption, and money laundering, including asset forfeiture cases.  

The Taskforce, which comprises members of the Judiciary and representatives of law enforcement institutions, worked with the UNODC in the development of the Handbook. The Handbook explains the provisions of the Financial Crimes Act, the primary asset forfeiture law in Malawi, and the other laws that relate to asset forfeiture. Additionally, the Handbook has examples of asset forfeiture case authorities from Malawi and beyond, which provide precedent and guidance on handling asset forfeiture cases.  

During the launch, the current Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda S.C stated that apart from providing guidance in handling asset forfeiture cases, the Handbook will later be used as a base for developing the rules of procedure for the financial and economic crimes court. During the training, judges attending that training observed that asset forfeiture, mainly non-conviction-based asset forfeiture is not easy to handle for law enforcement and the courts. As such, any training that provides enlightenment is always appreciated.