By: Amina Tepani Daudi

In an effort to enhance the understanding of youth diversion among police officers, the Irish Rule of Law recently conducted a two-day training session at the Kamuzu Institute of Sports.

The event, held on July 14-15, 2023, welcomed 28 officers from various police formations under the jurisdiction of the Kawale Police Station.

Martha Pigott, the organization’s program lawyer, was the lead facilitator. She explained that diversion means channeling cases away from the criminal justice system with or without conditions. It is specifically meant for children who commit first and small offenses. These children are not serious criminals but rather committed the offense without realizing the consequences for the victims or themselves. Factors such as idleness, peer pressure, and coercion often play a role.

“Malawi recognizes the benefits and importance of diversion, and it is adapted in many legal documents. As such, once a child comes into conflict with the law, it is the duty of all child justice workers to make efforts to prevent the child from entering into the criminal justice system and to divert the child,” highlighted Pigott.

She also encouraged the participants to practice the diversion process, citing that it lessens the file burden on the court and avoids overcrowding in the cells. Furthermore, the 48-hour rule can easily be complied with and can assist in not having a backlog of bail cases that they have to follow up.

On his turn, Child Protection Desk Officer from the Central West Region, Assistant Superintendent Wales Munthali, highlighted the proper treatment of child suspects and diversion.

He added that diversion prevents the child from going through the traumatic process of the formal criminal justice system and from getting a criminal record, which will reduce the risk of re-offending. This will really give the child a chance to still build up a good life and become a better citizen.

Lastly, the Officer In-Charge for Kawale Police Station, Mr. Aubrey Kawale, Assistant Commissioner Of Police (ACP), thanked the Irish Rule of Law for considering his station to be one of the beneficiaries to undergo such training.

Kawale highlighted that it was the first time the Irish Rule of Law had organized such training with a large number of participants from all police formations under his policing area, hence urged his subordinates to utilize the opportunity.

“I expect you all to take heed of whatever you will learn here and put it into practice whenever you are handling child cases,” concluded Kawale.

In attendance at the training were Angella Chintu from the Social Welfare Office and Sub-Inspector Yotamu Chaonaine, the Child Prosecutor.

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