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Zambia

    May 26, 2017

    In response to the Lusaka Magistrate Court’s decision to adjourn the case of United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema and five of his employees until 12 June, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa said:

    “Hakainde Hichilema and his five employees are currently undergoing persecution through prosecution and the charge against them must be dropped. Their arrest and detention is part of a cynical ploy to silence all political opposition in Zambia.

    “This treason charge is designed to intimidate Hichilema and stop him and others in the opposition from taking part in public affairs. The Zambian authorities must stop misusing the criminal justice system to target and harass the political opposition.”

    Background

    Hakainde Hichilema is the president of the main opposition political party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) in Zambia.

    The six were arrested on 11 April after they allegedly failed to give way to a Presidential convoy in Mongu district. They claim they were beaten, teargassed and pepper sprayed on their genitals by the police.

    June 28, 2016

    Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the owner of The Post newspaper, Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta M’membe and the newspaper’s Deputy Managing Editor, Joseph Mwenda, Amnesty International said today.

    The three of them were arrested in the early hours of 28 June and are currently being held at the Lusaka Central Police Station without any charges.

    “The continued persecution of Fred M’membe, his newspaper and staff is a disturbing attack on independent media and contrary to the rights to freedom of expression and association,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for Southern Africa.

    “Fred M’membe and his newspaper are victims of an attempt by the state to silence critical media and those who speak truth to power. It is unacceptable and must be brought to an end.”

    The arrests followed their return to the newspaper’s premises after a court ruled against the Zambia Revenue Authority to allow the newspaper to continue publishing. The newspaper was shut down last week by the authorities, alleging it owed taxes.

    June 22, 2016

    The decision to shut down the independent newspaper, The Post, is a deliberate ploy to silence the media ahead of the election, said Amnesty International today.

    Zambian authorities ordered the closure of the publishing company, Post Newspapers Limited, on 21 June 2016, demanding US$6.1 Million tax in arrears. However, the newspaper is alleging selective application of the law by authorities to target the critical news organization.

    "The closure of The Post newspaper is a disturbing development clearly designed to silence critical media voices. The shutting down of one of Zambia’s main independent newspapers in the run up to an election is an affront to media freedom and the authorities should immediately reverse their decision,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for Southern Africa.

    "If the newspaper owes taxes, necessary arrangements should be made to settle the dispute. Shutting down the newspaper threatens the right to freedom of expression."

    July 16, 2015

    The decision by President Edgar Lungu to commute the sentences of 332 prisoners awaiting death by hanging to life imprisonment is a laudable first step and a ‘triumph’ for the right to life, said Amnesty International today.

    The organisation is now calling on President Edgar Lungu to abolish the death penalty completely, which violates the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime more than other forms of punishment.

    “President Edgar Lungu has taken a very progressive step by deciding to spare these 332 people the death penalty, the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We commend him for this decision, but he must do more and totally abolish the death penalty in the country,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    Crimes such as murder, treason and robbery with a deadly weapon are punishable by death in Zambia. However, the country has not hanged anyone since 1997.

    July 03, 2014

    Today’s court decision to acquit two Zambian men accused of having consensual sex with each other because the case had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt is the right decision for the wrong reasons, Amnesty International said today.

    “It is appalling that these men have spent over a year in prison awaiting trial charged with something which should not be a crime,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

    “To imprison people on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation is unjust and a breach of international law. Amnesty International has always regarded these men to be prisoners of conscience.”

    James Mwape and Philip Mubiana, were freed today after having been held for over a year after being charged with having sex “against the order of nature”. The judge said that the state had not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.   

    February 21, 2014

    The Zambian authorities must end the persecution of individuals based on their perceived sexual orientation, Amnesty International said as the trial of two Zambian men accused of having sex “against the order of nature” is set to conclude on Tuesday, 25 February.

    James Mwape and Philip Mubiana have been held in prison since May 2013. Both men, aged 22, were subjected to forcible anal examinations, by government doctors to “prove” their involvement in sexual activity. These examinations are tantamount to torture and scientifically invalid.

    Amnesty International regards both men to be prisoners of conscience and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release. 
    “There has been a string of violent attacks and state prosecutions of people believed to be gay or lesbian in Zambia”, said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia Researcher

    September 17, 2013

    Zambia postpones same-sex conduct trial

    The postponement of the trial against two Zambian men charged with same-sex sexual conduct whilst they continue to languish in prison is compounding their suffering, Amnesty International said.

    “These men should not be facing the courts in the first place. Postponing the trial condemns these men to even more time in prison simply because of outrageous charges against them based on their perceived sexual orientation,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

    The trial, which was due to start yesterday, was deferred as the presiding magistrate, Mr John Mbudzi, had to attend an urgent family matter. No new date has been confirmed yet.

    Philip Mubiana, a hair dresser and James Mwape, a brick layer, were charged with committing acts “against the order of nature”. They have been in custody for more than four months after being denied bail. If convicted they face a minimum of 15 years in jail.

    September 11, 2013

    Zambia must immediately drop the charges against two men accused of same-sex sexual conduct and release them from prison unconditionally, Amnesty International said ahead of a court hearing Thursday.

    “It is high time that individuals stopped being persecuted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Human rights are about the dignity and equality of all people,” Said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

    James Mwape and Philip Mubiana, both 22 years old, will appear in court on 12 September in the Zambian town of Kapiri Mposhi for a remand hearing.  They have been in custody since 6 May 2013 facing two counts each of committing offences “against the order of nature”.
     
    The pair were initially arrested on 25 April 2013 and detained until 2 May 2013 when they were granted bail. After their release they were arrested for the second time just four days later following another report to police by a neighbour.

    May 08, 2013

    The Zambian authorities must immediately release two young men who have been denied bail after being arrested on charges of having sex “against the order of nature”, Amnesty International said.

    According to state media, police in Kapiri Mposhi in central Zambia on Monday arrested Phil Mubiana and James Mwansa, both aged 21, in Ndeke village.

    Sources have told Amnesty International that one of the men’s neighbours reported them to the police, resulting in the arrest – their second for alleged same-sex sexual conduct, considered a crime under Zambia’s penal code.

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