Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC ) has requested the new administration to negotiate for the repatriation of at least 11 young women arrested abroad on drug and human trafficking, including Estina Mukasera who was arrested for drug trafficking in China in 2018.
In a letter dated October 5 2020 from the human rights grouping and copied to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Homeland Security, Inspector General of Police, and Speaker of National Assembly, HRCC says while it does not condone drug trafficking, some of the women were duped by drug lords who continue to abuse other victims.
The rights body further says the situation raises concerns on failure by government to own its citizens.
The letter signed by HRCC chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba, among others, wants authorities in the country to profile all persons in foreign prisons on similar charges and make a public call for submissions to get more details on the people behind such deals as a means of putting a stop to the malpractices.
Reads the letter in part: “The Malawi embassies closer to courts and prisons where Malawians are being held should support these Malawians and appropriately provide relevant information to Capital Hill to act upon.”
In an interview, Mkwezalamba said some of the women are in India and other Asian countries while others are in Ghana and South Africa.
He further claimed that he shared with police contact numbers of some of suspected drug lords in the country for tracing but no action was taken.
When contacted, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said he needed more time to inquire about the issues.
The HRCC chairperson also pointed out that other governments of Kenya, Ghana and South Africa have in the past successfully negotiated the release of their citizens faced with similar predicament from other nations.
Both ministers of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka and Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda did not pick our calls when we sought their comments on the matter.
Minister of Information Gospel Kazako in a telephone interview said Minister of Foreign Affairs was better-placed to comment.
In a separate interview former chairperson of Parliamentary committee on International relations Alex Major observed that as of 2018, there were over 200 Malawians locked up in foreign prisons for drug trafficking––16 of whom were female.
Major said there are more Malawians in other prisons abroad but that cases that are highlighted are from countries with very strict laws.