Malawi (Tier 1)
Malawi is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Children are primarily trafficked internally for agricultural labor, but also for cattle herding, domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, and to perform forced menial tasks for small businesses. Anecdotal reports indicate that child sex tourism may be occurring along Malawi's lakeshore. Trafficking victims, both adults and children, are lured by fraudulent job offers into situations of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation within Malawi and in South Africa.
The Government of Malawi fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Malawi continued to make noteworthy progress in tackling trafficking in persons, despite its limited human and financial resources. To further its efforts against trafficking, the government should strengthen its legal and victim support frameworks through the passage and enactment of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation.
The government maintained its vigorous anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts throughout the year. Malawi prohibits all forms of trafficking through existing laws, including Articles 135 through 147 and 257 through 269 of the Penal Code, though a lack of specific anti-trafficking legislation makes prosecution more challenging and allows for a large range of punishments meted out to convicted traffickers. The punishment prescribed for trafficking under existing laws is commensurate with that for other grave crimes and is sufficiently stringent. The Child Care, Protection and Justice Bill, which defines child trafficking and sets a penalty of life imprisonment for convicted traffickers, was approved by the cabinet and is expected to be tabled by Parliament in 2007. The Malawi Law Commission also began drafting comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation. In 2006, child labor and kidnapping laws were used to convict 10 child traffickers, one of whom was sentenced to six years in prison with hard labor for attempting to sell two children to a businessman. The remainder of the cases involved trafficking of children for agricultural labor and cattle herding. Some traffickers were required to pay fines, compensation, and the cost of repatriating the children to their home villages; however, others who claimed ignorance of the law were merely warned and released. During the year, Malawian police worked with Zimbabwe's Interpol office and IOM to investigate a case of a Zimbabwean victim trafficked to Malawi. Forty additional labor inspectors were hired and trained in 2006 to inspect agricultural estates and investigate cases of child labor trafficking. Between August and October, the Malawi Law Commission trained 250 prosecutors and investigators from the police and immigration services on prosecuting trafficking cases using existing laws. In March 2007, the Malawi Police Service trained 74 police officers nationwide to provide therapeutic services to traumatized and sexually abused children, including victims of trafficking. In August, it conducted a child protection orientation for district police commanders and a two-week training of instructors for 16 police child protection officers.
The government made appreciable progress in caring for trafficking victims and provided assistance commensurate with its limited resources and capacity. The government's Lilongwe drop-in center for victims of trafficking and gender-based violence served approximately 50 victims during the year with counseling, medical care, legal assistance, shelter, and vocational training. In partnership with NGOs and UNICEF, the government's rehabilitation center in the southern region provided counseling, rehabilitation, and reintegration services for abused and exploited children, including those involved in prostitution. Community-based services were also provided using volunteers organized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. After IOM repatriated a Malawian trafficking victim from Dublin, the Ministry provided counseling and facilitated her return to her home village. The government encouraged victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers and did not punish them for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. The Ministry of Labor established 60 additional community child labor committees in six districts that monitored their villages for suspicious behavior and reported suspected trafficking cases to police. The Ministry of Labor conducted sensitization workshops for district labor officers, training them on the roles of the judiciary, NGOs, and police in confronting child trafficking; these officers conduct inspections, enforce labor laws, and put on educational programs on harmful labor practices. The Ministry of Women and Child Development trained 140 new child protection workers who worked as volunteers, as the government was unable to compensate them.
The government made significant efforts during the reporting period to raise awareness among civil society, legislators, and law enforcement. The Ministry of Labor continued its distribution of the 2004 National Code of Conduct on Child Labor to farm owners, as well as posters and pamphlets on exploitative child labor and sex trafficking to schools, district social welfare agencies, hospitals, and youth clubs. The Ministry of Labor conducted six sensitization workshops in 2006 for school teachers and estate owners on Malawi's Labor Code as it relates to child labor, as well as "open days," sensitization events in rural areas with plays and speakers on child labor, trafficking, and other harmful practices. The Malawi Human Rights Commission conducted awareness raising campaigns targeted at potential victims of trafficking and sexual violence.