19 November 2017
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Sunday, 29 October 2017 21:17

Faith based institutions pen government on lack of courts at Likoma Island

Written by  Wisdom Ngwira

Mzuzu, October 27, 2017: Faith based institutions attending the Nzatonse, an information dissemination and best practice, conference in Lilongwe have written government pleading with it to consider providing judicial services at the twin islands of Chizumulu and Likoma.

In a communiqué read on Thursday by Reverend Nase Chunga of the Livingstonia Synod who represented the clergy, the faith leaders said something urgent needed to be done so that people from the two islands start accessing justice easily.

The communiqué which will be sent to government after the meeting has tackled many issues and urges government through the judiciary to quickly start conducting court sessions fortnightly at the islands as a short term measure.

The communiqué further proposes that as the fortnight court circuits are being conducted, strong efforts should quickly be made to ensure that construction of a court structure is effected.

Commenting on this development, Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), which is one of the faith based institutions operating on the two islands, said a lot of criminal and civil cases are never taken to court because of lack of judicial services.

Northern Region Project Officer for EAM, Patience Banda Nyirenda said people on the two islands do not have channels for legal redress.

“Imagine the nearest place where one can access justice is Nkhata Bay District which is too far coupled with unreliable water transport. This has a negative impact since a lot of people who commit crimes usually go scot free as it is difficult to take these cases to court in Nkhata Bay,” said Nyirenda.

The project officer said the project has unearthed a lot of gender based violence and sexual abuse cases on the two islands, but the cases fail to go through the justice system as there are a lot of logistical requirements to refer them to Nkhata Bay.

Eliza Kamoza who represented youths of the twin islands at the conference said it is even difficult for some domestic violence and sexual abuse cases to be reported to police or court due to intra marriages between communities of the twin islands.

“Most marriages in Likoma involve relations, so it becomes difficult to have sexual abuse and domestic violence cases reported as they end up being resolved outside the court.

We have some parents who have the desire to push for domestic and sex violence cases through the judicial system but their efforts are often thwarted because there is no court in the district,” said Kamoza.

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