Malawi Police Service (MPS) has set up a task force to investigate a case in which a 14-year-old girl was defiled while on remand at Chesepo Police Unit in Dowa.
A statement signed by MPS national spokesperson James Kadadzera states that the team will be chaired by Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police Dennis Chipao.
Other members of the task force are Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and Malawi Law Society (MLS)–human rights watchdogs which have also condemned the defilement, describing it as an infringement of the rights of the girl.
The statement, issued on October 14, reads in part: “It is saddening to learn that a girl child was defiled while in police custody either by the suspect or the police officer charged with responsibilities to protect her rights.
“In this regard, the Inspector General [IG] of Police has set up an independent task team to investigate allegations behind the case.”
MHRC executive secretary David Nungu said in an interview on Wednesday the decision is a step towards pursuing the matter in solidarity, as the police is also a human rights defender.
He said: “This is a very progressive way of us and the police working together. This is the kind of partnership we look forward to because we take note that Malawi Police Service is also a human rights defender, especially where criminal matters are concerned.”
Nungu said MHRC directors Harry Mitochi and Priscilla Thawe, who are seasoned investigators at the commission, will be part of personnel to be deployed in a team that will investigate the matter, and not prosecute it as earlier reported in this newspaper.
On Tuesday this week, a number of civil society organisations, including Women Lawyers Association and the Human Rights Defenders Coalition petitioned Police IG Rodney Jose to take concrete action on sexual and gender-based violence women and girls are experiencing in the country.
The defilement occurred on the night of October 4 this year in a police cell which kept a lone girl at the site manned by five male uniformed officer.