The United States Government, has offered support worth US$700,000 towards strengthening the capacity of the Independent Complaints Commission (ICC).
The support is channeled through a joint initiative by the US, ICC and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which has been launched this morning in Lilongwe.
The initiative will enable the Commission to conduct complex investigations aimed at increasing public trust in the Malawi Police Service.
According to US Ambassador to Malawi David Young, Public trust in law enforcement is very important for social and economic stability, hence the need for an independent and well-resourced ICC, which will assist the country’s police in restoring the lost public trust.
“When Malawians hear stories about the use of excessive force, incidents of sexual assault of someone in custody, or even deaths in custody, it erodes the trust necessary for citizens to see the police as protectors of the public,” Young said.
In recent years Malawians have lost trust in the law enforcement system following increased cases of crimes committed by the men in uniform.
These include rape of female suspects, assault and even torture leading to death of some suspects in custody.
“If a police officer looks the other way as human traffickers operate with impunity in their community, it blurs the line of criminality.
If the public sees that the very people on the front line of the criminal justice sector responsible for enforcing the law are also breaking it, it reduces confidence in one of the most important components of a peaceful and democratic society,” he added.
Called “Strengthening the Independent Complaints Commission (ICC) the, 18-month project will provide support in ensuring that the ICC is able to securely collect and store evidence; conduct investigations based on strong evidence and prepare winning substantive cases that can be taken up for prosecution.
The project will be implemented in close collaboration with the Malawi Police Service, Malawi Human Rights Commission, National Initiative for Civic Education, CSOs and other stakeholders at the national level, with the ICC as the lead implementing partner.