Mchinji District Council on Friday established the first ever District Coordination Committee against Trafficking in Persons (DCCATIP) and Technical Working Group (TWG) following reports that the district is registering high number of human trafficking cases.
The establishment of the committee came following an on-site training for front line officers on Trafficking in Persons conducted by The Ministry of Homeland Security with financial support from the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) in Mchinji district early this year.
Senior Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs and Internal Security who also the National Coordinator for TIP, Patricia Liyabuba said it is challenging for the National Coordination Committee to handle most TIP cases because they occur in rural arears hence the need for DCCATIP.
She continued saying statistically Mchinji as a boarder district and where there are also many farm and estates, registers high cases of TIP.
“Most children are being tracked to the neighbouring country of Zambia and also the district is used as a transit for TIP. Mchinji DCCATIP and TWG will act as a pilot for the other districts in the country,” she said.
She added that through the new structure, there will be trainings capacitating the Judiciary, the Immigration Office, Police, Social Welfare Office and non-governmental actors.
“The Coordination Committee will make an action plan and be responsible for managing and preventing TIP cases from taking place,” she explained.
Representing the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kondwani Chawapi said TIP being a highly organised crime and a serious offence, everyone must take responsibility and join the fight.
Chawapi said: “According to TIP Act introduced in 2015, failure to report TIP practices is an offence punishable by law with a fine of MK500,000.00.”
He however, lamented over high rate of human trafficking in the bordering district as a result of inexistence of lateral agreement to fight against TIP saying Malawi relies on regional agreements.
“Apart from relying on Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) agreements, the ministry of Foreign affairs should consider engaging neighbouring countries to work together on TIP,” he said.
The committee chairperson who is also Director of Planning and Development (DPD), Raphael Munthali made an assurance that the committee would work to full capacity in the fight against TIP cases.
Mchinji DCCATIP structure comprises DPD office for the chairperson, The Police and Social Welfare Office for the Secretariat, The Immigration Office for Treasury and Department of Gender and Media for interested group.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security has identified hot spot areas where TIP cases are likely to occur which include all lakeshore, boarder and city districts namely; Mwanza, Salima, Nkhatabay, Karonga, Nkhotakota, Dedza, Mulanje, Phalombe, Lilongwe, Mzimba, Blantyre and Zomba where the next DCCATIP and TWG will be structured.
It also plans to put a formal agreement in place to work with neighbouring countries like Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique in the fight against TIP.