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Govt to review defilement laws

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By Rebecca Chimjeka

Solicitor General Reyneck Matemba has said government will review laws to do with defilement amid rising cases of the crime.

Matemba was speaking in Lilongwe Friday when the Ministry of Justice and Youth Net and Counselling (Yoneco) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for improved coordination of the working relationship between Yoneco and the Director of Public Prosecutions in fighting sexual and gender-based violence and related cases.

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The solicitor general, who represented the ministry at the event, said government is equally concerned about the rise in defilement cases.

“We have received a lot of complaints from the Judiciary, that the current laws tie their hands and they end up meting out soft sentences for such grievous offences. So we are considering reviewing the laws so that the sentences can be prohibitive to would-be perpetrators,” Matemba said.

Yoneco Executive Director MacBain Mkandawire disclosed that the organisation has registered 1,450 defilement and 1,470 child marriage cases between January and September this year through its helpline.

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Mkandawire added that Yoneco has also registered over 7,000 cases of human rights abuse.

“Only a few of the cases have been tried. We understand that it is costly to handle these cases with the lack of resources, that is why this memorandum of understanding is coming in,” Mkandawire said.

He further said the MoU will ensure defilement and child abuse cases are tried and completed with speed in the courts.

The agreement will see Yoneco mobilising resources such as finance to be used by the Ministry of Justice to expedite the trial of cases so that children get justice in good time.

Yoneco Board Chairperson Dickson Banda said the organisation noted that there is a backlog of defilement and child abuse cases in the courts and that the reason was lack of resources to prosecute the perpetrators.

He said Yoneco, whose main agenda is promoting rights and the welfare of children especially girls, does not have its own lawyers but relies on the Ministry of Justice to handle the cases that it receives.

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