Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malawi

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malawi, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee64c.html [accessed 20 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Malawi (Tier 2)

Malawi is primarily a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Most Malawian trafficking victims are exploited within the country, though Malawian victims of sex and labor trafficking have also been identified in South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and parts of Europe. To a lesser extent, Malawi is a transit point for foreign victims and a destination country for men, women, and children from Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Within the country, children are subjected to domestic servitude and other forms of forced labor, including in cattle herding, agricultural labor, and menial work in small businesses. At local bars and rest houses, owners coerce girls and women, who work at the establishments, to have sex with customers in exchange for room and board. Forced labor is often found on tobacco plantations. Labor traffickers are often individuals who have moved to urban areas and subsequently recruit children from their home villages with offers of good jobs, and later withhold pay and subject children to sexual and physical abuse. Brothel owners or other facilitators lure girls from rural areas with promises of nice clothing and lodging. Upon arrival, the girls are charged high fees for these items and coerced into prostitution in order to pay off these debts. South African and Tanzanian long-distance truck drivers and mini-bus operators transport victims across porous borders by avoiding immigration checkpoints. Some local businesswomen who travel regularly to neighboring countries to buy clothing for import have been identified as traffickers. Reports of European tourists paying for sex with teenage boys and girls continue.

The Government of Malawi does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government maintained its efforts to ensure forced labor victims' access to protective services and it prosecuted and convicted labor trafficking offenders; however, adults in forced prostitution or forced labor and children exploited in domestic service and prostitution still did not receive adequate attention and the government prosecuted no such offenses during the reporting period. While one trafficking offender received a short prison sentence, most convictions resulted in sentences of fines or out-of-court settlements with compensation to victims, both of which failed to provide an adequate deterrent. The government continued to depend heavily on international organizations and multi-national NGOs for funding most anti-trafficking programs and took no action to prevent trafficking during the reporting period.

Recommendations for Malawi: Pass and enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; expand training programs for judges, prosecutors, and police on how to identify, investigate, and prosecute trafficking offenses using existing laws; continue to manually compile basic trafficking law enforcement data until it is possible to improve data collection capabilities on cases investigated and prosecuted, as well as victims assisted; expand the existing focus on protecting victims of child labor trafficking to include children exploited in domestic servitude and prostitution; develop a formal system to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, including women and children in prostitution, and to refer them to available government and NGO services; and launch a nationwide anti-trafficking public awareness campaign.

Prosecution

The Government of Malawi increased its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the last year by enacting legislation that specifically prohibits child trafficking. Malawi prohibits all forms of trafficking through various laws, including the Employment Act and Articles 135 through 147 and 257 through 269 of the penal code, though the country lacks specific anti-trafficking laws. The penalties prescribed under these various statutes range from small fines to 14 years' imprisonment; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In June 2010, the national assembly passed the Child Care, Protection and Justice Bill, which was immediately signed into law by the president; this is the first legislation to define child trafficking in Malawi, imposing a penalty of life imprisonment for convicted traffickers. During the reporting period, the Malawi Law Commission completed draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, which specifically prohibits all forms of human trafficking; this legislation is expected to be introduced to the parliament in 2011. In December 2010, the government amended penal code Section 147 to specifically prohibit sex trafficking. The government did not make available comprehensive anti-trafficking law enforcement statistics, though some individual districts provided data on their actions, totaling 18 prosecutions, 11 of which have concluded with convictions, and the remaining seven prosecutions remain pending. Districts also reported the arrest of alleged trafficking offenders, including that of one Malawian and two Mozambican nationals, in Phalombe District, for the alleged labor trafficking of five boys, from 12 to 15 years old. Although the government prosecuted and convicted offenders using existing legislation, only one of nine convicted offenders served jail time and sentences varied widely across district courts. Additionally, labor inspectors and child protection officers were trained to seek remuneration for workers in labor dispute cases – including forced labor – rather than to refer to law enforcement for prosecution; the government's continued failure to seek criminal prosecution of forced labor offenses, with significant prison sentences, hinders an effective response to Malawi's trafficking problem. Police, child protection, social welfare, and other officials received training in how to recognize, investigate, and prosecute instances of trafficking either directly from the government or in partnership with NGOs during the year. For example, in March 2011, the government trained 20 officers from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Community Development, and several NGOs in a trainer-of-trainers program on child protection and human trafficking. The government continued to train police recruits at the Malawi Police Training School in identifying and combating human trafficking, as part of their standard training curriculum; at least 525 recruits were trained during the reporting period through this program. The Ministry of Labor continued to train labor inspectors in child protection. Requests for law enforcement cooperation with neighboring governments continued to be made on an ad hoc, informal basis. The government did not prosecute or convict officials for trafficking-related complicity during the reporting period; the Anti-Corruption Bureau's investigation, begun in 2007, into two complaints of trafficking-related corruption remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period.

Protection

The government maintained its efforts to ensure victims' access to appropriate services during the reporting period. The government has not yet established systematic procedures for proactively identifying victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations, especially women and girls in prostitution. The government funded one rehabilitation drop-in center in Lilongwe for victims of trafficking and gender-based violence; it is unknown how many trafficking victims the center assisted during the reporting period. Over 100 police stations throughout the country housed victim support units to respond to gender-based violence, including trafficking crimes; these units continued to provide limited counseling and, in some places, temporary shelter to victims. Government-run hospitals provided trafficking victims with limited access to medical and psychological services. The government, at the district level, also referred victims to various NGO-run shelters, which catered largely to vulnerable children and youth, with some providing specialized care for women, though not for men. These shelters offer rehabilitation and skills training. The government supported NGOs by assigning labor inspectors, child protection officers, district social welfare officers, and police to assist in their anti-trafficking projects; national and district budgets allocated resources for these government officials, though they were not itemized for anti-trafficking efforts specifically. There were no aggregate data available for the number of victims identified, referred, or assisted by the government and NGOs during the reporting period; from the two districts that reported protection data, 253 male trafficking victims and 52 female victims were identified. In Kasungu District, police and labor officers referred 38 child labor trafficking victims to care facilities before they were reunited with their families. In Mchinji District, an NGO transit center cared for 266 child trafficking victims; the District Social Welfare Office partnered with the center to assist in the reintegration of 254 victims into schools. The government continued to provide child trafficking victims with school supplies and funding to assist in their reintegration, and provided training to trafficking victims' families on income-generating activities to reduce the likelihood of victims' re-trafficking. The government did not provide foreign victims with temporary residency or legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they would face hardship or retribution; in some cases the Immigration Department suspended deportation for short periods. The government provided limited assistance to repatriated Malawian trafficking victims; during the reporting period four Malawian nationals were repatriated from Zambia and the Social Welfare Office provided transportation to Zambia. Overall, the government encouraged victims' participation in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes and did not penalize identified victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; however, trafficking victims may have been detained for a short period during the initial investigation of their cases.

Prevention

The government made minimal efforts to prevent human trafficking and did not coordinate anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns during the reporting period. It did not complete a national plan of action, the drafting of which started during the previous reporting period. Three inter-agency groups have responsibility – and possible overlapping jurisdiction – for trafficking issues: the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Human Trafficking, led by the Ministry of Gender, Child Development and Community Development; the National Steering Committee on Orphans and Vulnerable Children; and the National Steering Committee on Child Labor. These committees did not organize any awareness campaigns or training activities, though they reportedly met during the year. In November 2010, in partnership with IOM and INTERPOL, the government hosted an anti-trafficking training session for senior police officers from other African nations, with a focus on building communication strategies between law enforcement entities in each country. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the year. Military officers and enlisted soldiers received training on human rights, child protection, and sexual exploitation from a foreign donor before their deployment abroad as part of peacekeeping missions.

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