U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malawi

Malawi (Tier 2)

Malawi is a country of origin and transit for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Trafficking victims, both children and adults, are lured into exploitative situations by offers of lucrative jobs either in other regions of Malawi or in South Africa. Children are internally trafficked for forced agricultural labor. Women in prostitution reportedly draw underage children into prostitution. Anecdotal reports indicate that child sex tourism may be occurring in Malawi, primarily along the lakeshore.

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. Trafficking in persons was a new concept to Malawian officials in 2004, when, in the midst of near-total political transition, they made admirable efforts to organize anti-trafficking activities and information. To further enhance its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should arrange for additional training for law enforcement officers on the recognition of complex forms of trafficking in persons and continue toward the passage of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation.


The government made progress in furthering its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Malawi's constitution prohibits slavery, servitude, and any form of forced or bonded labor. Its penal code criminalizes abduction; procuring of a person for prostitution or to work in a brothel; procurement and defilement involving threats, fraud or drugs; involuntary detention for sexual purposes; and living off the proceeds of prostitution or operating a brothel. During the year, the government reintroduced an amendment to strengthen and support these articles. In addition, the Malawi Law Commission began drafting a specific law to criminalize all types of human trafficking. In November 2004, the Ministry of Labor shifted its focus from labor inspection to labor enforcement, and regional inspectors gained the authority to conduct investigations and press charges. Since that time, two cases of child trafficking for agricultural labor exploitation were successfully prosecuted to conviction in the central region. In addition, the Ministry of Labor removed 13 children from situations of forced labor in tea and tobacco estates and reunified them with their families after requiring employers to compensate them. The government provided basic counter-trafficking training to all immigration officers and police.


The government made appreciable progress during the reporting period in caring for victims of trafficking and provided assistance commensurate with its limited resources and capacity. In May 2004, it conducted a rapid assessment of the situation of the country's orphans and determined that they are at risk of exploitation, including sexual exploitation. The Ministry of Gender, Child Welfare, and Community Services responded by developing and launching a national action plan for orphans and vulnerable children that included elements of victim protection and trafficking awareness and prevention. As part of the plan, nearly 200 new child protection officers received training on the recognition of trafficking victims and were placed in districts across the country. In addition, 37 Victim's Support Units were established, with the mandate to provide protective and support services to exploited children, including trafficking victims. The government's long-term victim protection strategy targets those in prostitution and those at risk of prostitution, particularly children. By offering options such as education and vocational training to children in prostitution, the government contributed to their social reintegration and rehabilitation.


In 2004, the government formed an inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee that meets regularly and which has begun developing a national anti-trafficking action plan. Drafting this plan was complicated by the lack of data on human trafficking. As a result, the Ministry of Gender, in cooperation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Malawi Human Rights Commission, designed a comprehensive study of the nature of human trafficking in Malawi, for which they are seeking donor funding. During the year, the government conducted a variety of regionally focused public awareness campaigns – workshops for teachers and traditional authorities, meetings for rural families with young children, marches and radio jingles – to increase understanding of the root causes of trafficking in persons. In September 2004, the government hosted a three-day IOM regional workshop on human trafficking in Southern Africa that was attended by several senior government officials. In addition, it approved the opening of an IOM office in Malawi.


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