GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO TABLE ANTI-TRAFFICKING BILL IRKS BODY
By Amalawi - Tue May 29, 12:07 pm
BY OUR REPORTER
Journalists against Child Trafficking (JACT), a grouping of Malawian journalists committed to writing issues concerning human trafficking, has said it is irked by lack of interest on the part of parliamentarians to discuss a bill that criminalizes child trafficking.
This is despite wide range calls from the grouping and concerned child and women rights organizations in Malawi to have the bill deliberated and passed into law.
In an exclusive interview with amalawi, JACT Secretary Christopher Sande said there are no indications from the Ministries of Justice and constitutional Affairs and Home Affairs and Internal Security to table the bill.
“Really there are no indications on the (trafficking in persons) bill this time around. I doubt it seeing the light of day during this sitting (of parliament) unless a miracle happens” he said.
Meanwhile, Sande has challenged president Mrs. Joyce Banda’s government to see the need to have legislation on human trafficking which would promote and protect lives of vulnerable people especially women and children.
“We expected (Malawi) government to view human trafficking impacts with a human face considering that it affects and puts the lives of rural poor children and women at risk.” Said Sande adding; “Lack of the legislation on human trafficking has created more challenges. Malawi as a country has remained a fertile land for trafficking.”
A recent report on human trafficking estimates that almost 500 to 1500 children and women are trafficked within and outside Malawi every year.
Furthermore Malawian courts especially magistrates have problems to convict the culprits as there is no law in place that criminalizes human trafficking hence soft punishments. This has encouraged child prostitution and child labor in most estates and farms of the highly agricultural dependent Malawi.
“Children are taken to work in estates while girls are working in bottle stores as sex workers. Unfortunately the culprits do not have time to respect the rights and dignity of children.” He said.
Sande added that more children lack parental care, drop out from school, catch HIV Aids, face physical and psychological torture, loss of organs and death as a result of being trafficked.
He has since appealed to the government to take the bill to parliament for discussions and pass it into law.
Sande said the legislation would save lives of more innocent children and women in Malawi.
“We have more hope in the new leadership (of President Banda) and government in dealing with human trafficking incidence. We have always viewed trafficking as another form of slave trade and it is our belief that political will could assist to stop the incidences.” He said. Sande said it has taken too long for the bill to be deliberated and passed into law since the cabinet’s approval in 2011.
He said by the time cabinet approved the bill the ministry of justice and constitutionals affairs of former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s government in the previous sittings had brought to parliament so many bills that were discussed and passed without delays.
Some of the passed bills like police bill, amendment of section 83 to ban media and injunction bills raised a lot questions to Malawians. However, President Mrs. Joyce Banda’s government has put concentration on the same issues in a manner of repealing the so called oppressive laws. Within two weeks of parliamentary deliberations, the unpopular injunctions bill, the police bill and the national emblems act have been reversed.
Whilst lauding government for reversing the laws and also passing the disability bill which had taken eight years before going to parliament analysts have cautioned the speed the Peoples Party (PP) led government has taken on these issues emphasizing the need for wide range consultations to avoid making similar mistakes the previous government did.