Stakeholders involved in child protection programmes say shortage of magistrate courts in districts is negatively affecting justice delivery.
Stakeholders at an end-of-project review meeting co-organised by Plan Malawi and Ntchisi Organisation for Youth Development [Noyd] said this on Friday in Nkhotakota District.
Noyd was implementing a three-year project called Child Protection and Participation with funding from the Swedish government in traditional authorities (T/As) Malengachanzi and Mwansambo.
Plan Malawi child protection manager MacDonlad Mumba said shortage of magistrate courts in districts is denying children access to justice.
For instance, Nkhotakota has six courts but only Nkhotakota First Grade and Nkhunga Second Grade magistrate courts are operational, catering for a population of over 400 000.
Mumba said plans are in the offing to introduce mobile courts and institute a one-stop-centre as temporary remedies, adding they will also lobby for re-opening of the dysfunctional courts.
He said, “The rationale of opening a one-stop centre is to strengthen coordination among police, health personnel and social welfare offices to speed up justice delivery for children.”
District child protection committee (DCPC) last year wrote the Chief Justice to consider reopening some of the dysfunctional courts.
In his remarks, Noyd monitoring and evaluation officer Habil Kalumo said since the inception of the project in the district, there has been remarkable progress in eliminating child abuses.
Through the project, the two organisations ended 13 child marriages and withdrew 79 minors from forced labour. They also returned153 children who dropped out of school.