Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) has asked police officers to provide access to justice and protection to sexual minorities such as lesbians, gays and transgender people.
The minority rights organisation has embarked on an access to justice project whose objectives are to empower the gay community on their right to seek formal and informal justice and security from the police and other institutional bodies if their rights are violated.
Cedep executive director Gift Trapence said on Friday the police have been targetted after the organisation recorded over 100 cases of assault on the gay community in 2014 and a slight increase in 2015.
He observed that the cases were not reported to police because the sexual minority community did not trust to take up their case because homosexuality is illegal in Malawi.
The Attorney General’s office has challenged the court’s declaration which lifted the 2012 moratorium that gay people would not be arrested until there was a review on sodomy laws.
Trapence said while there was uncertainty on the moratorium, the police had a duty to protect and defend all people regardless of their status.
Police deputy commissioner and head of community policing Lovemore Mwabumba confirmed that much as the police were tasked with providing access to justice and legal remedies to all, it was important for officers to understand emerging issues in human rights and the law.
“Police officers are professional but when there is a knowledge gap its very dangerous and we fail to effectively carry out our duties. As police, we have a duty to protect all Malawians but there are attitudes within the police which have to change,” he said.
The project will be carried out in several districts, including Mangochi, Salima, Blantyre and Mulanje and will result in the establishment of a legal desk which would monitor and condemn speeches that incite violence and hatred against sexual minorities. n