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Over 20 Malawians in foreign prisons

Chimwemwe Shaba

Steven Kayuni

Malawi is failing to repatriate some prisoners that are stuck in jails around the world

However, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson John Kabaye said the ministry had no estimate of the people who are incarcerated in prisons around the world.

“The ministry will provide a realistic estimate by engaging our missions to determine how many Malawians are incarcerated at this time and how many of them are, indeed, Malawian since most criminals claim to be Malawian based on dubious documents. The process should, therefore, take a while before we can have a credible estimate,” Kabaye said

However, our investigations indicate that there are over 20 Malawian prisoners stuck in jails around the world.

Some of the prisoners are stuck in Ethiopia, Hong Kong [a special administrative region of China], Mauritius, India and China, among others.

According to our investigations, there are three women in Brazil, one woman in Hong Kong, three women in Ethiopia, two women in jail in China, one woman in Ghana, among others— all of whom were arrested in relation to drug trafficking offences.

According to our investigations, some convicts who claim to be Malawian based on dubious documents are also serving jail in different countries.

Malawi has diplomatic relations with over 100 countries but utilises diplomatic offices established in only 20 countries that are accredited to all those countries.

Malawi Prison Service spokesperson Chimwemwe Shaba said issues of repatriation of people that are in jail were facilitated by the Ministry of Justice in coordination with the country where the prisoners are.

“As the prison department, we have an MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] with the Zambian government through the Zambian Correctional Service where we exchange prisoners and we carried out the activity last year at a function held at Mwami Border,” Shaba said

Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni said prisoner transfer, or exchange, is a post-conviction process and involves negotiations including safe passage processes.

“These are criminal trial processes in another jurisdiction of which Malawi has cordial international relations. Prisoner transfer, or exchange, is a post-conviction process. It involves negotiations including safe passage processes. These processes are a multi-agency coordination of Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Homeland Security through prison authorities. Government always endeavours to negotiate the interests of Malawian citizens willing to finish the jail term in their home country.” Kayuni said.  

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