He trains officials during Malawi to prevent and fight this crime: this year , despite COVID-19 limitations, his work has resulted in the rescue of around three hundred human trafficking victims and 31 arrests.
I was a young, recent law graduate when I first experienced the horrors of human trafficking. It had been in 1998. I had been trying to find a human rights NGO and attending a workshop in South Africa. A taxi driver told me about two girls from my home state who worked at a pub in Johannesburg. He was quite worried about them.
They were sisters, and only 14 and 16. I met with them and found they’d been trafficked from Malawi to South Africa and forced to work as prostitutes. They had been in a terrible condition, both physically and emotionally.
I managed to arrange their return to Malawi. Now, one of the sisters is working as an accountant, the other as a head teacher in a primary school. We stayed in contact, and they still see me as their’dad’.
It came into force in 2015.
Hundreds trafficked annually
Human trafficking is a huge issue in my country but, at the moment, there was very little comprehension about this crime. Each year, countless men, women, and children, mainly from rural areas, are trafficked within, throughout and out of the country for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.
But now my country has the legal means to convict traffickers appropriately and provide protection and support to sufferers. This is a major step ahead. It’s my job to support the execution of the anti-human trafficking law and the federal action program, which was developed and is updated with UNODC aid.
I travel round the country to train, mentor and coach law enforcement officials that handle cases of human trafficking. I explain how they can use the laws to detect cases, identify and protect victims and secure prosecutions of the criminals.
The officials that deal with instances of human trafficking — police officers, border monitors, immigration officials, and investigators — are invited to put the human rights and needs of the victim first, and that I work with social workers who assist victims in their road to recovery, such as those brave survivors who serve as witnesses in court cases.
I visit rural communities, where I speak to the usual village leaders about human trafficking and the tricks used by the traffickers: these people have a good deal of power within their communities to affect behaviour change. I also visit schools, health centers and churches, to raise awareness of the crime among the general people. It’s very rewarding to work for the United Nations, to receive the inviting feedback from the participants of my own training sessions and roadshows.
I see how successful my job is, during the ever-increasing numbers of victims rescued from human traffickers, the amount of arrests made and the instances that are effectively prosecuted.
There are lots of cases I’ve been engaged in, which I’m proud of. These contain the rescue of Malawian victims of labor exploitation from Kuwait and Iraq and their safe return home, along with also the rescue of men from Nepal who had been trafficked to Malawi. And there are the recent rescues of youthful victims of unions and prostitution following my mentoring that summer.
A few of the cases I worked on are mentioned by lawyers and prosecutors. They’re also used by the Malawian police services in their training curriculum for new recruits.
In my nation and globally, I am referred to as a’hero’. Before this year, I had been honoured by the U.S. Department of State. However, for me, the best benefit is to see the way my job has attracted much-needed nationwide, regional and worldwide attention to human trafficking, which is often a hidden crime.
More Maxwells wanted in Malawi
Policymakers now recognise human trafficking as a matter of growing concern that needs to be dealt with, and the press in Malawi are currently playing a crucial role in highlighting human trafficking. I see it as my duty to be certain that there isn’t merely one Maxwell, however many Maxwells. I want to train more people to ensure my country can efficiently respond to the barbarous crime.
Through my job, I can make a difference and stand up for vulnerable people and prevent human trafficking. This is what motivates me and the desire to assist the victims, their anguish really worries me.
Occasionally my work does affect me emotionally. I see some terrible things, I question how people may perpetrate such acts, particularly to innocent children. But I’m able to balance between my personal and work life.
I have three kids, a boy of 13 and two women age seven and four. When I’m home, I spend some time with them. In the weekends, we all go to church. My spouse and the kids really miss me when I have to travel. The two eldest children know of the job I do, but I don’t discuss certain cases together.
My seven-year-old daughter was recently asked at school to make a picture of a famous man, and she took a picture of me and advised the class her dad is a hero because of the job he does.