High Court comes to children’s rescue


The High Court in Blantyre has ordered the transfer of all children detained at Kachere and Bvumbwe prisons pending trial to safety homes within 30 days.

High Court judge, Sylvester Kalembera, made the ruling on Tuesday.

He further ordered that children who were tried by competent courts should also be transferred to safety homes.


In the ruling, Kalembera orders that all magistrates of grades lower than the first grade should not preside over child justice cases unless they are designated by the Chief Justice through a notice published in the Gazette.

He, therefore, declared null and void orders made by second and third grade magistrates against the children without being designated by the Chief Justice and ordered a retrial of their cases within 30 days.

Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance Executive Director, Victor Mhango has since described the ruling as a “landmark” in a statement.


“The Child Care, Protection and Justice Act has been in place since 2010, yet some of its most critical provisions around child justice are not consistently implemented. It is encouraging that the court has taken a stand to declare that the failure to follow the Act’s provisions is unlawful,” reads the statement in part.

The case in question was brought to court by some civil society organisations who are concerned about the conditions at Bvumbwe and Kachere prisons which, they say, are not in the best interests of children in conflict with the law.

The statement says the Inspectorate of Prisons, in its 2016 report to Parliament, noted that Kachere Prison “is a health disaster in waiting”, citing severe shortage of food, the risk of disease outbreak, the risk of the building collapsing and a shortage of blankets, among others.

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