Zambia: Activists in court on escalating crackdown on human rights

Zambian authorities have escalated their crackdown on human rights by bringing trumped up charges against two activists who took a stand against the arrest and harassment of hip-hop artist Pilato, Amnesty International said today, as the two are due in court.

The charges against Laura and Bornwell fit into a much wider pattern of suppression of peaceful dissent that we have seen in Zambia in recent years
Deprose Muchena, East and Southern Africa Director

The two activists, Laura Miti and Bornwell Mwewa, are facing politically motivated charges of “assault on a police officer” and “disorderly conduct”. They were arrested on 21 December after they travelled to the city of Livingstone in support of Pilato, aka Fumba Chama, after he was arrested for “unlawful assembly” for addressing a youth gathering.

“The charges against Laura and Bornwell fit into a much wider pattern of suppression of peaceful dissent that we have seen in Zambia in recent years,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

“Authorities are using intimidation and harassment against human rights defenders, activists and political opponents as a strategy to instill fear across Zambian society. All charges against Laura and Bornwell must be immediately dropped
Deprose Muchena

“Authorities are using intimidation and harassment against human rights defenders, activists and political opponents as a strategy to instill fear across Zambian society. All charges against Laura and Bornwell must be immediately dropped.”

Laura has been charged with disorderly conduct at a police station and two counts of assaulting two police officers. Bornwell has been charged with disorderly conduct at a police station. They were both detained following their arrest and later released.

Human rights activists have been increasingly targeted in Zambia recently for demanding accountability and challenging corruption. 

The criminal justice system should not be used to silence dissent and settle scores against political opponents. The authorities must end this growing repression and ensure full respect for the human rights of everyone
Deprose Muchena

“Instead of continuously unleashing the state security machinery against activists and political opponents, Zambian authorities should be building a society where everyone can freely express themselves without fear of reprisals,” said Deprose Muchena.

“The criminal justice system should not be used to silence dissent and settle scores against political opponents. The authorities must end this growing repression and ensure full respect for the human rights of everyone.”