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119 illegal migrants stuck in Mw prisons

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Over 119 Ethiopian migrants are detained in the country’s various prisons after they were arrested for illegal entry and travelling without documents.

This development comes at a time a Malawi immigration law audit report of May 2016 has faulted Malawi’s immigration laws as they permit arrests, detention and prosecution of illegal immigrants.

Executive Director for Center for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (Chreaa), Victor Mhango said the migrants are currently been kept at Maula, Dedza and Ntchisi prisons.

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“The number keeps changing with each passing day as a week hardly passes without arresting these illegal migrants. These are all Ethiopians,” he said, adding that 23 Congolese were repatriated yesterday courtesy of their government.

Malawi does not have specific shelters for illegal immigrants but rather detain them in prisons meant for criminals.

The audit report was requested following a high level roundtable meeting held last year on policy development for migration regulation.

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It has among others pointed out that Malawi government migration laws have the discretion not to arrest and detain migrants even those without documents and to permit them to pass through the country lawfully without violating the migrants’ human rights, and further congesting the overburdened prison system, as is currently being done.

The report has made 24 recommendations to ensure compliance with human rights and rule of law.

In the wake of this audit report and media reports that government is too broke to repatriate 40 Ethiopian children who were arrested in November 2015, Chreaa and Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) have called on government to take into account not only the cost in financial terms, but also in terms of human suffering that arresting, prosecuting and detaining both adult and child migrants is causing.

“We urge Malawi government that this is unnecessary, expensive and, in our assessment, unlawful,” Mhango said.

According to Malawi Human Rights Commission, in 2014, Malawi arrested 702 illegal immigrants and in 2015, 707 illegal immigrants were arrested.

“Most of these illegal immigrants were arrested in the northern part of Malawi and were of different nationalities such as Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Rwanda,” reads part of the information from the Commission.

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