Malawi has a major problem of trafficking of children and child labour amid indications that more than 3,000 children are working on tobacco farms in the country, according to the United Nations.In a report published by a 13 member panel of UN-appointed independent human rights experts, children make up about 30 percent of reported cases of trafficked persons who are forced to work on tobacco farms in Malawi.
“Despite the abolition of the tenancy system, serious concerns persist in relation to risks of trafficking of children and forced labour”, the experts said in the report published late Wednesday.
They said the 3,000 are part of more than 400,000 Malawian children missing school, most of them affected by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UN experts called on Malawi’s government and tobacco companies to step up human rights protection across the tobacco industry supply chain to ensure there is no forced labour involved.
They noted that most of Malawi’s tobacco farms are located in remote areas where there is limited access “to assistance, defences against labour rights abuses, and protections against people trafficking.”
The experts called for urgent strengthened monitoring, enforcement and business accountability to prevent human rights abuses and ensure that codes of conduct are effectively implemented.