Amnesty International demands immediate and unconditional release of medical doctor jailed for insulting President Lungu

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Amnesty International has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Kwalela Kafunya, a medical doctor who is entering his second year in prison in Zambia on what it caked absurd charges of “insulting the president”.

Kwalela Kafunya, who has been in detention since 8 May 2017, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on 10 January 2018 after what Amnesty International says is a grossly unfair trial.

His arrest followed allegations that he had made derogatory comments about the president on Facebook.

Dr Kafunya who was based at Luampa Mission Hospital in Western Province was convicted by the Mongu Magistrates Court and sentenced to three years imprisonment on three counts of Defamation of the President contrary to section 59 Chapter 87, Written Threats to Murder contrary to section 218 chapter 87 and Giving False Information to a Public Officer contrary to section 125 cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

Facts of the matter are that Dr Kafunya created a fake Facebook Account for purposes of bringing the name of the Republican President in ridicule by posting disturbing remarks, insults and digitally altering images of the Republican President with intent to bring his name into disrepute using a Facebook account created in the names of another person who is also a medical Doctor at the same Hospital.

Dr Kafunya further sent written threats to murder to the Doctor in whose name the Facebook account was created through text messages while in another count, Dr Kafunya gave False Information to a Public Officer of Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe Police Station.

For the offences of Defamation of the President and Giving False Information to a Public Officer, Dr Kafunya was sentenced to two years imprisonment for each count while for written threat to Murder; he was sentenced to three years.

The sentences are to run concurrently meaning that he will serve a period of three years.

But Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena said Dr Kwalela Kafunya has committed no crime yet he has not set foot outside of prison for more than a year.

“Dr Kwalela Kafunya has committed no crime yet he has not set foot outside of prison for more than a year. Seven years in jail for “insulting the president” is an outrageous sentence,” said Mr. Muchena.

“The Zambian authorities are using social media as a tool to crack down on freedom of expression. Kwalela Kafunya’s plight is sadly typical of the growing criminalization of dissent in Zambia. He must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

He said Dr Kafunya’s trial was compromised by a number of failings adding that the police investigation into his case was incomplete and still ongoing during the trial proceedings, while the presence in court of officials from the President’s Office and supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front may have applied undue pressure on the presiding magistrate.

Mr Muchena said seven years in jail for “insulting the president” is an outrageous sentence.
Throughout the trial Kwalela Kafunya maintained that he has never operated a false Facebook account or published anything that could be considered defamatory against President Lungu.

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38 COMMENTS

    • Why did this doctor even stoop so low to Edgar Jonathan’s level to even insult the low lifer, our President. I thought doctors are professional people who can deal with anything in the most caring way. This doctor is useless let him rot in Jail otherwise patients will be at risk!

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    • Mwana 7 years is too much for this case. This is Kwalela’s productive period (around the 30s), he’d be paying taxes and healing people by now. Think about the big picture. The internet freedom has very bad side effects like the lack common sense judgement on how people comment on various issues including you here on LT. Put yourself in his shoes. A president is just a simple human being who continues to make lots of mistakes that will affect our children and their children. Because of bad leadership, Zambia has failed to turn 50+ years of independence into sustainable development. We just borrow and steal. We pull each other down. The last time we worked together as a country was during the struggle for independence. Can you imagine what we have missed?

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  1. Supposing he didn’t do the things they say he did but instead was framed? Zambia Police please revisit this case, it stinks. But if he is really guilty then he is lucky to come out with three years.

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    • What services? This is a very dangerous man considering what he did. Do you realize that he put the other Doctor’s life in serious danger?

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  2. let the man finish his sentence. How can you say he didnt commit any crime when our laws say otherwise? Whose laws are Amnesty international referring too?

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    • Commpn law. How about that?
      Zambia never developed law that served the interests of Zambians. It copied everything else and added some to prop politicians.

      The Zambian government unfortunately exists to serve the interest of those in it. Once you are outside, you are on your sorry own

      We need to reframe government in Zambia.

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  3. He should and will be released, you know what happens when human rights are abused? rights groups will begin pushing for his release and they will engage donor countries in the act to free him.

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    • He is a very stu.pid dokota and an embarrassment to the medical profession. Instead of concentrating on assisting patients, he is busy making nonsensical insults on the elected Head of State. Let this chi.color rot in jail

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  4. BA Amnesty international plz twapapata twaleni bupuba somewhere not here in Zambia.Camoneka tamwaishiba inchito .When people were being displaced in Namwala,beaten,butchered,and all nasty things were being committed in the name of UPND you were fast asleep.Shame on you.Cimoneni Ci Amnesty.Zambia Will remain a peaceful country,despite this young boy hh trying to disrupt our way of life.will soon throw you out of the Zambian political landscape.The writing is on the wall.

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  5. Comment: The president has no rights. “human rights” say insult, defame, demean presido…it’s okay. *****ic, let the fellow learn more insulting terms in jail. Those who wish to partner with him continue… you will sson join him!

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  6. Amnesty International should create an online signed petition to release him if he is not released in due course.

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    • Rubbish. If u got nothing to say just shut your beak. That id.iot of a doctor deserves to rot in jail. In fact he deserves more than 3 years behind bars so that he can come to his use.less senses

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  7. Too young and very educated be so bitter with small things. When you prescribe a drug to your cliant, you expect results. Similarly when you threaten and or insult the President you should expect results. The President shall be injured and the consequences of that is what you got, jail term. Amnesty SHUT UP!

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  8. Kutumpa kupunama ba Amnesty, st.inking shi.t!! Ukokwine naka horse.horse kenu takaka bunepo bu Pesident apo ncili pa calo ca Zambia!!
    Spaka mwaice bebeko filya waishiba ifyabula amano.

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    • You cannot set those countries as a benchmark. They have failed to provide basic human conditions of living for their people. Zambia needs to lead and take advantage of the peace and collective human abilities of our people to develop the country. This pride and lack of rationality in our judicial system is a major contributing factor to African underdevelopment. As yourself, what is the president’s or the government’s gain in his 7 years imprisonment? Fining the person for example could have been more appropriate punishment. How many people can you put in prison for 7 years for calling a spade a spade?

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    • Citizen that’s where you’re wrong DRC and Rwanda has people like not animals. In fact if you allow lawlessness like your doctor, Zambia would easily degenerate like those countries mentioned.

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  9. This how HH’s tribalism has destroyed many Zambians in 3.5 bantustan provinces!!Kainde has been preaching tribalism in those areas since 2006.Not even learned Zambians such as this dull doctor are spared!!During elections,our friends in UPND strongholds behave like animals!!Surely,why insult the president?it is shocking.UPND is full of bad losers!!
    Honestly,i have no kind words for this tonga doctor.let him rot in jail.am sure he now knows that HH whom he supported blindly is a nobody in Zambia and cant free him!!!He was a civil servant who must be working with any Govnt of the day!!This tribal doctor could even kill anyone at the hospital whom he thinks to be a PF supporter!!JAIL HIM LONGER PLEASE!!

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  10. Ba Amnesty if you are aggrieved, hire him a lawyer and appeal to the high court. His a convict and he must servr his sentencr. Instead of concentrating on his work, he became useless. Uzayiona Jail.

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  11. Seven years is too much! There are thieves who have stolen millions in Zambia and are on the streets? The whole corrupt PF

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  12. The office of the President should be respected at all times regardless of who is occupying it. We can not promote anarchy by insulting the Head of state in the name of Human Rights. Every country has laws that should be respected without any exception.

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  13. Why exaggerate? Its not seven years he will physically serve, but 3 years, and he has already served 1, remaining with only 2 years! Amnesty group or whatever they call themselves must not look at issues with one sided view just because they want more money from their western funders! Why concentrate on Africa? Go to Russia as well and tackle Putin who knows no human Rights! How about China? And Trump in the US? Stop waiting our time we want to develop as well, and insults wont develop us!

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  14. Come on Amnesty International. Don’t embarrass yourselves. If you suspect he was framed on that Facebook issue, prove it. Afterall, you can tap into international resources. Otherwise, our young Doc acted foolishly and stupidly. Use Other grounds to seek his release not that nonsense you are yapping. Ask him to show remorse and apologize to his Doc friend and to the head of state.

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  15. Please Amnesty International. You can do better than that. If you suspect he was framed, prove it. You can tap into international resources. Otherwise, our Doc stooped very low. Use a different ground to seek his release. For a start, he can apologize to his colleague and to the head of state. African Freedom Day and Independence are around the corner-he could be released soon!

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  16. No sacred cow with crime,let’s be level headed.am not supporting any political group but truth be told if one is guilty they have to pay for their mistakes period.just because he is a doctor he is to be scort free?don’t politicise everything but analyse issues fairly.this is what I hate about politics!!!if doctors are supposed to be spared when they error,who have you built prisons for?be realistic

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  17. The calls from under 5 hh on a foreign land that South Africa intervene in our internal politics is manifesting bad fruits.6 Zambian trucks are burnt to ashes in South Africa as I’m writing.sure iwe hh in Your right frame of mind,how can you advocate for violence in your mother land.You even went further,saying the president of that violent country intervene in our peaceful nation.Kwena walitipwa mumbwe iwe.What ever bad things will happen to mother Zambia ,we will hold you accountable.Iwe ka under 5 ka hh you are a danger to national peace and security.We will soon in 2021 pack you in the political archives rusted and rusted forever.Amen.

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  18. Amnesty International Regional Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena you not only sound ignorant but naive too. Of all the 3 charges the Doctor was facing you only choose to cite the defamation charge in order to ridicule our judicial system and champion your stupid friends’ mission of tarnishing Zambia’s image to the international community. I am sure that if this Doctor faced the same charges in South Africa and was jailed you would be more reasonable in your analysis. Zambia does not need chaps like you who make a living regurgitating your master’s vomits.

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  19. Does Amnesty want our laws to be disobeyed. I’m surprised Amnesty have kept quiet about the Egyptian journalist Hussain who’s been in prison since 2016. Solution is to amend the law on defamation of the head of state. Releasing this gentleman will send wrong signals. Besides the doctor also forged the FB page by using another person’s details. Kwasila uyu aenda.

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  20. Thats what happens when you are careless and stupid on social media, for a medical doctor he showed gross indiscipline at the highest level and may never be employed as a doctor again so when he is released he has to consider another profession all together.

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  21. Personally I think there’s something wrong with a president who can’t cope better with an insult than by locking the person who gave it up in jail. Shouldn’t a president be better than that? “Sticks and stones…”

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