Since 2021, CHREAA has been implementing a ‘Combating Torture in Places of Detention’ project with funding from the United Nations Voluntary Funds for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT). During this implementing period, CHREAA has assisted over 500 victims of torture through legal advice and assistance and psychosocial support.
CHREAA also devised a brochure containing torture messages which were distributed to torture victims’ family during screenings at police stations and during other human rights awareness activities CHREAA conducted in various communities.
Further, in order to identify these victims CHREAA conducted Periodic Justice Visits in various Prisons and police stations in Blantyre and Zomba districts, which were accompanied by senior magistrates, Police Commissioners and Malawi Human Rights Commissioners and paralegal screenings in various police stations and prisons in Blantyre and Zomba districts.
Through this project, CHREAA joined prosecution of a case of ANDREW CHAGAGA V REPUBLIC, a police officer who raped a 17-year girl twice in police custody. The police officer was convicted and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment with hard labour.
During this project implementation, CHREAA faced some difficulties during the time the Prison Department banned other visitations due to the rise of Covid-19 cases, only doctors, lawyers and paralegals were allowed to meet the prisoners. CHREAA paralegals were able to meet and screen inmates who have been tortured but it was very difficult for the psychosocial counsellor to meet the prisoners to provide them with therapy sessions because of the visitation ban.
However, the psychosocial counsellor managed to provide therapy sessions to torture victims who were found at police stations. Even though the paralegals were allowed to meet the prisoners, they were not allowed to stay in prison for a long time therefore they were not able to screen all intended victims of torture. The restrictions of Covid-19 have also contributed to the delay of proceedings of cases at court as the availability of judicial officers was minimal and case adjournments took longer.