British High Commissioner Holly Tett has bemoaned the loss of public trust in the Malawi Police Service (MPS), saying it affects service delivery.
Speaking in Blantyre yesterday after opening a three-day training on investigations of trafficking in persons for 32 police and immigration officers, Tett urged the police to work on restoring the lost public trust if it is to perform its duties effectively.
She said allegations of police brutality and clashes between the public and the police such as the ones at Msundwe Township in Lilongwe make it difficult for police to combat crime including trafficking in persons.
There have been allegations ranging from defilement, rape, torture and theft against police officers in and around Msundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu trading centres in Lilongwe on October 9 2019.
Said Tett: “As the UK, we are concerned with these allegations, not only because of the crimes themselves but the impact that such allegations may have in the long run in as far trust and credibility of the police is concerned.
“What is important in these situations is that there is proper, thorough and independent investigation.”
The envoy said police have a vital role to play in tackling trafficking in persons.
“[They do this] not only through investigations and prosecutions but through engaging the public, building relationships with communities, and helping in prevention of crime,” she said.
In his remarks, Southern Region Commissioner of Police Sladge Yoosuf said MPS is working with stakeholders to build a good relationship with the public.
He said: “However, we are having challenges prosecuting these cases because sometimes people do not come to report while some are reluctant to testify in court.”
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime officer on trafficking in persons said last year alone, 162 trafficking victims were rescued.
The UK Government is funding a £200 million two-year project aimed at fighting trafficking in persons through the UN agency.