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Lawyer in Africa awareness visit

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GROUPS and congregations across Annandale welcomed a special visitor this week with a strong message.

Linus Nnabuike Malu is visiting the area from Malawi, where he works as a lawyer specialising in gender based violence cases and human trafficking cases.

And he has been raising awareness of these issues and his work, which is part of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Programme.

Linus, who hails from Nigeria, was seconded to Malawi two years ago and runs a free legal service, helping thousands of people with Access to Justice. He said: “There is a high level of poverty. People cannot afford a lawyer.

“We deal with legal issues, psychological counselling, mediation, go to court for them.”

However, he said they are ‘overwhelmed’, dealing with 15 cases a day and 4-500 a year. Linus and his team also work on specific projects, with a particular focus on gender based violence (GBV). He said: “The history of Malawi seems to encourage GBV.”

Prevention work with vulnerable people is key and as well as support and professional advice, they operate a small loan scheme to help victims rebuild their lives. They also campaign against early marriage and Linus said: “It’s culture too that men own their wives like property. We are tackling that too. These are very difficult cases.” He added: “Human trafficking is a big issue in Malawi, both internal and external, because of high levels of poverty.”

He hopes his time in the region, where he is being hosted by the presbytery of the Church of Scotland, will raise awareness and promote their work, which is funded by the church.

Rev Dave Wightman, of Annan, helped organise the visit and said: “We are trying to see this as two way. It’s an exchange of cultures, thoughts, ideas. We want to see how we can work more together, we have a long history of partnership.”

The week included meetings with politicians, community groups, congregations and Linus also spent a day at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

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