Stakeholders in the country’s justice system have embarked on an Adult Diversion Scheme in 18 traditional authorities (T/As) in Lilongwe aimed at decongesting Maula Prison.
Under the scheme, some cases will be handled at community and police level without the offenders being referred to the courts.
Central Region Commissioner of Police Clifford Bandawe said congestion at Maula prison can be avoided if some cases are settled at community level.
He said cases of stealing maize cobs, cassava plants and chickens should be settled at community level.
The scheme is being championed and supported by the Ministry of Justice, Malawi Police Service, Malawi Prison Service, the Chief Justice, Para Legal Advisory Service Institute, Legal Aid Bureau and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP).
Head of programmes at CCJP, Patrick Chima, said the scheme will help government to cut costs.
Regional Paralegal officer Alfred Munika said there are several criteria for determining when diversion should be considered.
“Certain types of offences are considered too serious to be eligible for diversion. Victim offender mediation sessions and family conferencing are some of the options we are trying to do. We are encouraging members of the community and police officers to be diverting even on caution and release as an advanced options,” said Munika. n