Amnesty lamented that Zambian authorities have brought trumped up charges against two activists who took a stand against the arrest and harassment of hip-hop artist Pilato.
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 traveled to the city of Livingstone in support of Pilato, aka Fumba Chama who was arrested for “unlawful assembly” after he addressed 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.”
Amnesty said 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.
“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.”