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Court orders probe on cops over human trafficking

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Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate has ordered the State to investigate three police officers suspected to have been involved in human trafficking.

The order was given on August 30, 2021 by High Court Judge Violet Chipao who sat as Chief Resident Magistrate when she delivered a judgement in a case involving Pakistani nationals, Usan Afzal and Mudashir Hussain Shahid who were answering human trafficking case.

In the case, Usan Afzal and Mudashir Shadid were answering charges of falling to report an offence under the Trafficking in Persons Act and the offence of withholding passports for furthering trafficking persons in which the State lost.

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The three officers are Inspector Kachapira of Ntcheu police; Sub Inspector Malata and Sergeant Nkhoma of Blantyre police.

The court ordered that they should be investigated for the role the played in suppressing evidence which would have gone a long way in establishing the relationship between people that were accused of human trafficking.

The police officers are accused of abusing their power for assisting human traffickers which led to the State losing the case.

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In the judgement Chipao said the State’s conduct was not satisfactory.

Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda said this is a straight forward matter.

“The State will do its job” he said.

In the judgement, the court established that the action by the police was questionable. The court noted that there was no issue worth requiring the attention of the police in as far as the charges were concerned.

However, the Magistrate observed that the action of the police officers were suspicious and required further investigation.

The 2021 Trafficking in Persons report for Malawi by the US Department of State aimed at monitoring and combating trafficking in persons recommended that Malawi should expand the collection of law enforcement and victim protection data for trafficking cases, specifically the number of victims referred and provided with protective services, and compile data from all districts.

The report suggested that the Malawi government should disburse funds allocated to the Anti- Trafficking Fund to provide care to victims and to expand training for law enforcement and protection officers on investigating trafficking crimes, identifying trafficking victims, and providing adequate protection services.

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