U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Malawi

Malawi (Tier 1)

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 within Malawi or in South Africa. Children are trafficked within the country for forced agricultural labor. Women in prostitution reportedly draw underage children into prostitution. Anecdotal reports indicate that child sex tourism may be occurring along Malawi's lakeshore.

The Government of Malawi fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Despite limited resources, Malawi made significant progress in 2005, particularly in the areas of prosecuting traffickers and educating the public to recognize human trafficking. To further enhance its anti-trafficking efforts, the government should take steps toward the passage of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, and expand the provision of training offered to local law enforcement officials in recognizing and investigating trafficking.


Malawi's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts significantly increased during the reporting period. Existing laws cover the full scope of trafficking in persons, though specific criminal statutes covering forms of trafficking are not well understood by prosecutors and judges, presenting a significant challenge to effective prosecutions. The Malawi Law Commission submitted to the Ministry of Justice a draft law that specifically criminalizes child trafficking and, in February 2006, trained judges on child trafficking and highlighted existing laws to be used to effectively prosecute such cases. During the year, the government prosecuted and convicted 13 traffickers under applicable kidnapping and labor laws. In August, a Zambian man found guilty of trafficking 10 minors to work on a tobacco farm was required to compensate the victims and cover the cost of returning them to their home villages; the lack of a stiff prison sentence generated significant public outrage. This outcry, accompanied by effective interministerial cooperation, led to the September 2005 arrest, conviction, and sentencing to seven years of hard labor of three child traffickers apprehended along the Malawi-Zambia border. The Ministry of Labor reported nine additional cases in which employers, mostly farm owners, were convicted of forced child labor and required to pay fines. Labor inspectors conducted inspections and compliance certifications of tea and tobacco estates, the most common violators of child labor laws. In 2005, border patrol and police officials throughout the country received anti-trafficking training from government and NGO trainers, based on a manual developed by the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare.


The government made appreciable progress in caring for trafficking victims and provided assistance commensurate with its limited resources and capacity. In March 2006, the government opened a drop-in center in Lilongwe to provide victims of trafficking and sexual violence with counseling, medical care, legal assistance, shelter, food, and vocational training. During the reporting period, the government conducted district-level meetings to educate 240 child protection officers, as well as social welfare workers, law enforcement, immigration officers, prosecutors, and judges, on how best to respond to trafficking and effectively prosecute cases using existing laws. Effective interministerial cooperation produced the return of internal trafficking victims to their home districts. This process involved the Ministry of Gender's community-based volunteers in providing reintegration assistance, including medical care and business training. In partnership with NGOs and UNICEF, a government center provided counseling, rehabilitation, and reintegration services for abused and exploited children, including those involved in prostitution, in the southern region.


Malawi expanded its information campaign to prevent trafficking and raise public awareness. With support from international donors, the government produced and distributed 10,000 posters and 20,000 pamphlets to schools, district social welfare agencies, hospitals, and youth clubs to educate the public on various forms of child trafficking and abuse. The government published its new National Code of Conduct on Child Labor in newspapers and distributed it to farm owners. The government also conducted awareness campaigns to address the root causes of trafficking. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Gender launched a long-term national action plan for the protection of orphans and vulnerable children that includes elements of anti-trafficking awareness and prevention.


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