Photograph — directmatin.fr

The Malawian Police Service might be facing a lawsuit over its failure to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against their members, the Guardian reports. Last October, police officers allegedly harassed and raped women in the Msundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu trading areas of Malawi in retaliation for the killing of their colleague during the post-election protests.

A human rights organization, the NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) in Malawi launched an investigation into the incident and got first-hand accounts of what ensued from the survivors of the assault, which includes a 16-year old girl. 

“While NGO-GCN is ever cognizant of and supports the rational premise that justice has to be rightly satisfied through tracing, apprehending and prosecuting all those that participated in the killing the police officer, the Network is disturbed with reports that some of the police officers as dispatched to the areas on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, raped women, defiled self-boarding girl students, tortured people, and looted private property,” part of the report reads

NGO-GCN demanded that the President of Malawi, the Inspector General of Police, and the Malawi Human Rights Commission conduct further investigation into the matter and to prosecute perpetrators. But since the report was published three months ago, only the Malawi Human Rights Commission have heeded to the demand of the NGO-GCN. 

There has been no word from the office of President Arthur Peter Mutharika. And although they claim to be on top of the matter, the Malawi Police Service appears to have done nothing to investigate the case to bring the offending officers to face the law despite a multitude of evidence that young girls and women were indeed assaulted. Hence the involvement of the Women Lawyers Association of Malawi, a not-for-profit organisation made up of lawyers from different disciplines. 

The association is preparing to file lawsuits against police officers. “Our hope is to get justice for the women who were assaulted and punish the perpetrators,” Mphatso Iphani, a spokesperson for the association said. The EU ambassador to Malawi, Sandra Paesen and the British high commissioner to Malawi, Holly Tett have both condemned the alleged acts and called for an investigation into the matter. Tett described the reports as “disturbing”, adding that the allegations “have a bearing on police-public trust.”

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