Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Malawi

MALAWI (Tier 2)

Malawi is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. The incidence of internal trafficking is believed higher than that of cross-border trafficking, and practices such as debt bondage and forced labor exist. Children are primarily trafficked internally for agricultural labor, but also for animal herding, domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, and to perform forced menial tasks for small businesses. 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 Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia. In 2007, a Malawian man was allegedly trafficked to Uganda under the pretense of attending vocational school, but was instead forced to perform agricultural labor. Women and children from Zambia, Mozambique, and possibly Tanzania and Somalia are trafficked to Malawi for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.

The Government of the Malawi does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The failure to adequately punish convicted traffickers in 2007 resulted in Malawi's downgrade from Tier 1 to Tier 2; insubstantial punishments such as fines and warnings did not reflect the seriousness of the crimes or help to deter future instances of trafficking. However, the government continued a number of its admirable anti-trafficking efforts during the year, including those to raise public awareness of the crime and investigate cases of child labor trafficking.

Recommendations for Malawi: Continue to provide training for judges, prosecutors, and police on how to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases utilizing existing laws; and pass and enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation.


The Government of Malawi's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts diminished over the last 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 challenging and allows for potentially weak punishments to be imposed on convicted traffickers. The Child Care, Protection and Justice Bill, which defines child trafficking and sets a penalty of life imprisonment for convicted traffickers, remains in Cabinet and was not passed by Parliament during the reporting period. In early 2008, the Malawi Law Commission held consultative sessions with stakeholders and began drafting comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation to outlaw all forms of the crime. In 2007, child labor and kidnapping laws were used to convict child traffickers, although, unlike in past years, there were no reports that traffickers received prison sentences. According to the Ministry of Labor, 20 people were convicted of child labor violations – the majority of which were cases of internal child trafficking – resulting in the payment of fines; however, some traffickers who claimed ignorance of the law were merely warned and released. The minimal punishments meted out to traffickers during the reporting period demonstrated a lack of understanding on the part of judicial and other government officials of the seriousness of human trafficking crimes. For example, in June 2007, a man convicted of trafficking 12 girls within Malawi for commercial sexual exploitation was sentenced to four years in prison, but upon claiming he did not know trafficking was a crime, was allowed to pay a fine of $132 instead. The government's Anti-Corruption Bureau received two complaints of government corruption relating to trafficking during the reporting period; both remain under investigation.


The Malawian government's assistance to child trafficking victims appeared to decrease in 2007 as compared to the previous year. The government funds and operates a social rehabilitation drop-in center in Lilongwe for victims of trafficking and gender-based violence; four trafficking victims received assistance in 2007, compared to 50 in the previous reporting period. The police operated 34 victim support units throughout the country that specialize in handling gender-based violence and trafficking crimes and provide limited forms of counseling and temporary shelter. These units implemented the government's established procedures for referring victims to NGOs that provide protective services; those with medical needs were referred to government hospitals. Cross-ministerial district child protection committees monitored their districts for suspicious behavior and reported suspected trafficking cases to police and social welfare officers. The Ministry of Labor's 120 district labor inspectors also identified trafficked children. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Women and Child Development recruited and trained 160 new volunteer community child protection workers and placed them in districts throughout the country. The government encourages victims' participation in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes, and does not inappropriately incarcerate, fine, or otherwise penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Government officials indicate that foreign victims are usually granted temporary residency status.


The government sustained its significant level of public awareness raising efforts during the reporting period. In June 2007, the government and UNICEF began a child rights information campaign called "Lekani" or "Stop!" that includes billboards, bumper stickers, and newspaper ads which provide messages against trafficking, child labor, and child sexual exploitation. The campaign also includes a radio program on child rights broadcasted by Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and primary school education materials in the local languages. The Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNICEF completed a baseline survey on child protection covering child labor and child trafficking in November 2007. The Malawi Defense Force provides training on human rights, child protection, human trafficking, and gender issues to its nationals deployed abroad as part of peacekeeping missions.

Malawi tier ranking by year


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