Road Shows Inspire Community Collaboration against Trafficking in Persons

Phalombe and Mchinji, 26 - 30 September 2019

Malawi Government has rolled out public awareness campaigns on human trafficking with support from UNODC. Speaking in Phalombe District during one of the roadshows organized to raise awareness on the Trafficking in Person Act, the Representative from the Human Rights Commission, Mrs. Chifundo Njolomole, informed the audience that Malawi has a comprehensive legislative framework for combating and preventing trafficking in persons using a human rights-based approach. She added that the Act protects trafficking victims and provides specific offences and penalties for offenders. She highlighted the need for this campaign to increase participation of individuals, communities and institutions in the fight against the crime.

The Magistrate for Phalombe District, H/W Gift Banda, told the audience that prevention of trafficking in persons cannot be achieved unless members of the public are prepared to cooperate with law enforcement officer and the State. " It is not enough to simply concentrate on the deterrent impact of criminal justice sanctions" he stated, adding that "Efforts to deter traffickers must also address root causes of the crime, so as to break this cycle, hence the need for public participation." The Coordinator for Community Policing for Phalombe District, Mr. Richard Muluzu, said that awareness raising of persons who may come into contact with any trafficked person is an essential component to effective strategies aimed at preventing this scourge.

Law enforcement officers in Malawi are conducting public awareness campaigns in Phalombe and Mchinji Districts,  quite known for cases of trafficking in persons across the border. Malawi is affected by human trafficking as points of origin, transit or destination for trafficking victims. Traffickers continue to lure children from their families in rural areas under the guise of employment opportunities, clothing, or lodging, for which they are sometimes charged exorbitant fees, resulting inter alia in prostitution coerced through debts. Traffickers also subject teenage boys to forced labor on farms and young girls to sexual exploitation in nightclubs or bars. Children are also subjected to forced labor in begging, small businesses, and some are coerced to commit crimes.

During the roadshows, members of the general public were encouraged to ask questions to the panel of speakers.

UNODC carries out anti-trafficking work in Malawi under project "Strengthening the implementation of a comprehensive response to trafficking in persons in Malawi", in collaboration with the Government of Malawi and with the financial support of the United Kingdom. Implemented as part of the UNODC Global Programme against Trafficking in Persons, jointly with the UNODC Regional Office for Southern Africa, this project contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.