Ministry of Homeland Security has lamented the rise in cases of trafficked persons, saying there is need for joint efforts to stop the vice.
Speaking on Monday at a news conference in Lilongwe ahead of this year’s World Day against Trafficking in Persons which falls on July 30, the ministry’s Principal Secretary (PS) Kennedy Nkhoma said 2020 statistics show that there were 688 victims of trafficking and 74 traffickers.
The figures are higher than 2019 and 2018 where 147 and 136 victims were trafficked respectively. There were also 32 suspects in 2019 and 18 in 2018.
Nkhoma said it is worrisome that the number of cases, victims and suspects involved in trafficking are increasing every year.
He said: “Malawi is known as warm heart of Africa and we have to ensure that it remains so by fighting such crimes.”
Nkhoma warned security agents who take bribes and aid criminals in trafficking people across the borders.
“We will not shield anyone. Actually the punishment for the people in uniform is severe than what civilians face because apart from losing their jobs, they will also face stiffer sentences,” he said.
The PS said this year’s commemorations of World Day against Trafficking in Persons will be held in Mzuzu on July 30.
Nkhoma said the ministry will be engaging various stakeholders, including the media, chiefs, clergy and musicians to raise awareness on World Day against Trafficking in Persons.
This year’s theme “Victims’ voices lead the way” highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking.
In his remarks, Malawi Network against Trafficking national coordinator Caleb Thole said cases in Malawi should be higher than what is being reported.
He said on average 30 people fall victims of trafficking per day.
“There is need to intensify the fight against human trafficking and sensitise the masses as many people are not aware of it,” said Thole.
The United States of America Department of State’ 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report for Malawi shows that the country does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, therefore, remained on tier two in ranking.
The report says Malawi has, among other things, failed to address sex trafficking as efforts are inadequate compared to the gravity of the problem on the ground.
“The government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Government efforts to address sex trafficking were inadequate compared to the scale of the problem; the government did not report investigating any sex trafficking crimes or identifying any sex trafficking victims during the year,” reads the report in part.
However, the report says the country is making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards.
It said government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity. n