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Sunday, 15 March 2015 12:09

Adult diversion can save taxpayers money - CCJP

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Lilongwe, March 14: The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) says embracing the Adult Diversion programme can help save a lot of taxpayers’ money spent in taking care of prisoners in the country.

The Adult Diversion programme is a strategy that is being initiated by CCJP in conjunction with various stakeholders like the Judiciary, Malawi Police Service and the ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare to see to it that petty criminal cases committed by adults should be diverted from the formal justice to the informal justice system.

In the informal justice system, these petty criminal cases are handled outside the formal justice system to avoid sending the petty first time offenders to prisons and bring harmony amongst the communities by reconciling offenders and the victims.

CCJP Archdiocesan Secretary Noel Mtonza Friday in Lilongwe told journalists at the end of a one -day Adult Diversion Project orientation workshop for media personnel organized by CCJP that not only can the programme reduce congestions in prisons or bring harmony between the offender and victim, the programme can also saves government taxpayers money.

“What we have to know is that when one is sent to prison, the issue does not end there as government has to be taking care of that person while they are serving their jail sentences like providing them with food.

“As it is now, government is spending a lot of money in caring for inmates who are in various prisons in the country. Now the issue is that there are many people being sent to prisons after committing petty criminal offences and it becomes government’s responsibility to take care of these people while they are in prison.

“However, if these petty criminal offenses can be diverted to the informal justice system, the offenders could avoid prison time and have their cases dealt with at the community level. In this case, we are reducing congestions in our prisons and government will be saving a lot of money which could be used in other developmental works,” said Mtonza,

However, the Archdiocesan Secretary Mtonza said Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) funded programme which has so far diverted 100 cases in various systems across the police and other village setups is coming with its own setbacks.

 He said despite being guided by section 13 L and sections 161 of the Penal Code, there is no legal frame work which this can fully back theprogram which started in 2009.

“The biggest challenge facing the program is the absence of legislature. Malawi does not have a proper legislation in terms of adult diversion unlike in the child diversion where they have an act enacted by parliament clearly stipulating how they should do this.

“But in the absence of that legislation for the adult diversion programme, it is really a hassle for CCJP and all its partners to kind of implement this project,” said Mtonza.

The programme is currently in its pilot stage and it is being implemented in Lilongwe with a future hope of being extended to other districts.

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Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera is the current President of Malawi. He was sworn into office on June 28, 2020 at Malawi Square, Bingu International Convention Centre, Lilongwe. Before joining frontline politics, Chakwera was President of the Malawi Assemblies of God from 1989 until he resigned on May...