The Malawi government has been urged to change laws on immigration and save millions of Kwacha.
According to Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), government loses about K4 million when it choose to detain illegal migrants for eight months.
Malawi’s immigration laws provides that illegal immigrants should be responsible for their own repatriation and when immigrants fail to leave Malawi after being ordered to do so, they are detained.
But CHREAA says apart from being costly, the immigration laws which Malawi currently uses also discriminate against immigrants and violate their rights.
The organization has since embarked on a campaign advocating for a change in immigration laws so that the costs should be minimized and child migrants should not be detained in the country.
Together with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), CHREAA audited Malawi’s immigration laws and made various recommendations that will ensure compliance with human rights and the rule of law in government’s response to the ongoing detention of migrants in Malawi’s prisons.
“These children’s human, constitutional and statutory rights are being violated by the choices government is making by arresting, prosecuting and detaining them. While government is decrying the cost of repatriating the children and adult migrants, it is ignoring the immense cost of continuing to detain them.”
“CHREAA and SALC urges the Malawi government to take into account not only the cost in financial terms, but also in terms of human suffering that arresting, prosecuting and detaining both adult and child migrants is causing. This is unnecessary, expensive and, in our assessment, unlawful,” says Victor Mhango, Executive Director of CHREAA.
Among other recommendations, the two organisations want government to stop detaining child migrants and that there should be a new law which will make it unlawful to detain immigrants for any period longer than necessary to arrange for their deportation.
SALC Executive Director Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, who is an expert on international migration law, said: “The Audit details significant discretion that the Malawi government has within its migration laws. In particular, it has discretion not to arrest and detain migrants, even undocumented migrants, and to permit these people to pass through the country lawfully without violating the migrants’ human rights and further congesting the overburdened prison system, as is currently being done.”