United Kingdom condemns police assault
British High Commissioner to Malawi, Holy Tett, has said United Kingdom (UK) is disturbed with reports of alleged sexual harassment of women and girls by police officers in Lilongwe two weeks ago.
Her sentiments were echoed by some prominent non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that issued a joint statement on the same issue.
Some women and girls of Msundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika areas in the Capital City said some police officers sexually assaulted them in what is believed to be acts of vengeance after one police officer, Usumani Imedi, was killed by a mob at Msundwe.
The British High Commissioner said there is need for the alleged crimes to be fully investigated and the culprits be brought to book.
“As Britain, we are disturbed with reports of sexual harassment against girls and women in Lilongwe by some police officers. I am pleased that the police instituted investigations because we believe that these crimes must be fully investigated so that the vast majority of professional police officers should continue doing their work,” she said.
Tett also said there is need for the police to strive towards building a good working relationship with the public in protecting lives and property.
NGOs namely Plan Malawi, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Village Malawi and World Vision, under the banner of Child Rights Network Now, have in a press release, condemned police brutality.
“The laws of Malawi are clear in upholding the protection of women and girls from physical and sexual abuse and this is in line with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which Malawi subscribes to. We therefore find these gross abuses to be totally unacceptable, with no place in modern day Malawi,” reads the statement.
Malawi Police Commissioner for the Southern Region Sledge Yoosuf declined to comment on UK’s position on the alleged sexual harassment by police officers, saying the country should wait for the outcome of the enquiry which the police have commissioned.
“There is nothing better we could do other than instituting the investigations. I salute the police for doing that so let us wait for the outcome of the enquiry,” he said.
This was said during a training of police and immigration officers on Trafficking in Persons Act and national consultations on the development of the Trafficking in Persons Act Police Recruit Training Manual.
The training was organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to build the police and the Immigration Department’s capacity in the fight against human trafficking.
On the training, Tett said: “Malawi remains a source, destination and a transit country in human trafficking both for labour and sexual exploitation and the police need to continue working with the communities in the fight against the crime,” she said.
Meanwhile, some human rights activists have organised demonstrations against sexual harassment in Lilongwe Friday.