Drop criminal charges against six activists over fire trucks protests- Amnesty International

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Pilato and

The Zambian authorities must immediately drop all criminal charges against six activists who took part in peaceful protests that questioned exorbitant levels of government spending, Amnesty International said ahead of their trial on 25 June.

“The Zambian authorities must quash these charges which are clearly being used to silence any voice that dares to criticize the government or expose wrongdoing,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

“These activists are being put in the dock solely for exercising their right to peaceful assembly. They have committed no crime, they have only demanded accountability from their leaders.”

The activists, including musician Fumba Chama who is known as Pilato, Lewis Mwape, Laura Miti, Sean Enock Tembo, Bornwell Mwewa and Mika Mwambazi have pleaded not guilty to charges of disobeying a lawful order after marching on parliament last September against what they said was the corrupt procurement of 42 fire trucks for US$42 million.

The reported cost of the trucks sparked public outcry over alleged misuse of public funds, resulting in the protests on 29 September 2017.
If convicted, the activists, who were beaten by arresting police officers, face up to two years in prison.

“The government must immediately stop this dangerous erosion of freedoms in Zambia by upholding human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” said Mr. Muchena.

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41 COMMENTS

  1. Lock them up for a few months so that sanity is brought back in the country. We can not have people that just wake up everyday to protest and talk ill of the government. They can even fly to South Africa and hide there.

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    • What a country you lock up people for protesting but leave thieves in the FIC report go free!

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    • 1.1 Carlos – at least in our country we lock up fully grown citizens who know what they’re doing. Somewhere in the western hemisphere, they lock up little children for having illegal immigrant status – and that’s after violently seperating them from their parents.

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    • Nine Chale – starting a sentence with “at least”…this gullible lady Nine Chale always reminds of our poor neighbour we had back in the day who when we tell her that we will report her husband who batters her to ZP, she shouts at us and says he hits because he loves me (very much).
      Do you not see people protesting in the US about this policy ..even some of Trumps Press team are being politely asked to leave in restaurants…do you think you can get away with that in Zambia?
      Wake up from your docility Nine Chale …wake up!!

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    • Amnesty my Asssssssss!!! Go McAllen, Texas and ask Jeff Sessions about not caging little kids seeking amnesty in Trumpland before you talk to the smart people of the Zambian Enterprise.

      Better still go ask Jeff Sessions to drop charges on all those charged with the Black Lives Matter movement before talking to us.

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    • There comes the biggest dingbat in the pond JUNIOR…so you support the procurement of Scania Fire Trucks that cost $250K for $1million by your so called smart people of the Zambian Enterprise?

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    • Lock them up for what ???? For speaking their mind which is the democratic right of each and every citizen.
      Money was stolen and we all keep quiet about it — THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO RUN A COUNTRY AND WE AS CITIZENS NEED TO MAKE NOISE ABOUT CORRUPTION THAT IS RUINING OUR BELOVED COUNTRY !

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    • You know that your country has serious issues with their moral compass when you find people who support the theft of public funds by those in power. And when concerned citizens protest such evil, they are treated as criminals. And you have educated people supporting the repression of the very people who are trying to stand with the people of Zambia and defend their cause. God help us.

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    • Am also shocked that people here are implying that Amnesty should not talk about human rights in Zambia because the USA is also abusing human rights of migrants. Really? So because the US is guilty, it is justified for Zambian leaders to do the same?
      Of course the US is guilty of several human rights abuses. The biggest one is the murder of millions of unborn babies. But that does not justify the abuse of human right in Zambia. It’s like saying I will let my house burn down because the guy telling me hasn’t told my neighbour that his house is also burning. twisted thinking.

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    • This just proves that Lungu is a corrupt individual for allowing this unjustified detention of innocent Zambians whose only crime was to question the administration’s reckless and corrupt spending. And yet this corrupt administration even shamelessly claims to be committed to fighting corruption. But their turn will come. Sooner or later, they’ll be the ones facing the court of law for their corruption, including Lungu. We will take back everything they’ve stolen. They shouldn’t think they’ll get away with stealing public resources. We the Zambian people will hold them accountable. Shame on this corrupt administration. Shame on Lungu.

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    • Only in dull Zambia, does one find [email protected] that cannot reason propely.
      Surely to be in support of PF, a regime that steals from it’s own citizens, shows how detective the majority of Zambian minds are.
      Its similar to fishes in the sea celebrating when they realise the fishing trawler has arrived, & the fishermen start casting their nets into the sea.

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    • You’re either dumb, stupid or both! Ask yourself this, how does 42 fire trucks cost $42 million, then google fire trucks for sale and you will see for yourself how dodgy those figures are. Someone or people in the government dipped their fingers in the cookie jar for their pockets or our government is not fit for purpose.

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  2. Drop the charges and bring back Hon. mulusa to cabinet position for a just cause of exposing corrupt fellow ministers. What government doesnt want citizens demand for accountability ATASE LOOK at beautiful figure of LAURA MITI being misused instead of serving us the male folk properly

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    • Do you think along the same lines when your mother, sisters and nieces send you their photos?

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  3. Amnesty International must maintain a sense of proportion at all times. It is misleading to paint a gloom picture of a Government that has maintained a good governance record. The temperament in Zambia is generally a hot temperament. What this means is that focus on details could easily obscure the big picture. There is nothing wrong with a policeman arresting a suspect. What is crucial is to see justice at the end of the day. It is clear that defending the activist is desirable. However, an element of balanced debate and transparency is also essential.

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    • Dr.Makasa, you contributions are pathetically beneath the status of a doctor in any field. This country has continued to deprive citizens of human rights in all form of manner ranging from the Public Order Act to bias reporting in public media. The people in govt have continued to steal public resources at the expense of healthcare or education. Just go to UTH right now, a kilometer from State House and see how that place is deprived!!

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    • “There is nothing wrong with a policeman arresting a suspect????.”

      What did you study for you to get a Doctorate? If its Bicycle repair then me and my friends who are used to play with as kids should be Professors and we don’t know it..

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    • Malama, you dropped it on this one. Ndi ekuti waitaya. Arresting a “suspect”? What were the prptestors suspected of? They gave notice that theu would be protesting. And they were arrested for protesting. What is right about that big picture?

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    • Demonstrations in the country need to strictly adhere to laid down rules, procedures and practices. In certain instances, a demonstration is a public nuisance. To maintain rule of law and uphold human rights, any form of disorderly conduct needs to be met with appropriate action by law enforcement officers. Applying for police permits is not too much for pacifists. Don’t step on flowers. Flowers are for admiring. Flowers are for contemplation. Or are you suggesting that chaos alone is the way to democracy? I doubt that chaos is condoned in any other country.

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    • Dr Masasa, so in your view it makes sense to buy a scania truck for 1 million dollars? And we should just keep quiet and stay home in the face of such stratospheric levels of corruption? Sir, just because you are comfortable should not make you insensitive to the real suffering of the Zambian people. You fellow citizens in kanyama and George are lucky to go to bed having eaten 1 meal. Young boys are living on the streets of Lusaka and wasting away in ignorance and ignominy. Wasted lives. Young girls on the streets are abused while they have to beg or turn to prostitution.
      And people like, because your bellies are full of PF money, don’t give a damn about all this suffering. Beware, your time will come soon.

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    • Dr. Makasa, you indeed sound like a fake doctor. A peaceful protester is not a “criminal.” So how can he/she be termed a “suspect?” There’s a difference between peaceful protesting and rioting. As long as people are not rioting, no one should arrest them for merely exercising their right to peacefully protest. Only in totalitarian States do governments forbid any kinds of protest. Peaceful protests are part of a democratic system and no one should be arrested for it. In developed countries like America people peacefully protest almost everyday on different issues, without getting arrested. Lungu’s totalitarian administration has shown no respect for human rights, hence their criminalization of peaceful protests. Shame on you fake doctor and shame on Lungu and his gang.

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    • @Journeyman: It’s not about buying a scania for $1m. All those who protested and refused were at liberty to prove otherwise by providing counter quotes to the public and shame the govt. hh is very wealthy and has big corporate connections who could have provided that info but nothing came up. It’s all hallooballoo!! This country is cursed with weak and greedy NGOs and downright useless opposition. Go to RSA and see what Amabungane and EFF are doing. Even the racialist suspected Afriforum is more relevant than our NGOs.

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    • Zambian citizen, the issue of those wheebarrows has been dealt with also in the FIC report where it was stated that it indeed was corruption. What sort of brains do PF supporters have? Can an old model Scania truck that is no longer produced cost a million dollars each mwebantu? It’s a no brainer and shocking that people are in defence of this rampant theft. THINK!!

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  4. Zambia, oh, Cry brothers, sisters mothers and fathers. Cry coz you’re strong! They’ve stolen from you

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  5. This is shocking, why arrest people who are asking those in power to do right. It is unacceptable for government to continue on this path. When will public servants especially the police and the judiciary do the right thing, you beat up innocent citizens in the name of orders, you arrest ordinary citizens and facilitate the release of criminals. It is difficult to understand why Africa fought for political independence, we have worse oppressors than the colonial systems. Truth and service evaporating so rapidly, the sacrifice made by our forefathers ending up in vain. Our country and continent that was rescued from colonial rule is now for sale to China. Where is the nation whose God is Lord?

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    • They want to fix them..tire them out then enter nolle prosequi….I hope that DPP lady dances to the same music one day!!

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  6. Not heard any directive from Amnesty International about the murders of blacks by police in the USA

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  7. blog.amnestyusa.org/us/amnesty-international-stands-with-ferguson-because-all-lives-matter/

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  8. Let the courts of law prove them innocent. You have skeletons in your drawers too. The term Amnesty does not mean those who work there are clean. They are human too and not perfect.

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  9. With lungu , you ask you get arrested.
    You have ambitions , you get fired or attacked.

    Nothing but a corrupt theif.

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  10. Corruption thrives in poverty and a big cancer in Africa hence the only way to stop the scourge is to impose life sentences for the offenders

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  11. Trouble with these cases is that they assume upnd proportions as soon as Amnesty rub.bish comments. Tell that Deprose Muchena, so called Regional director for Amnesty, that he has more problems in his own country south africa where murders, rapes xenophobia and all bad things are happening unabated. Has he heard tgat Laura Miti has been raped in Zambia? No the woman is enjoying her nshima in her kitchen. And for his information Laura probably run away from possible rape in south africa.
    So for this case, it is properlg before the courts under our laws, you Amnesty just hire lawyers for your cohorts that is what they need now to escape two years in jail, not those political noises.

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  12. Trouble with these cases is that they assume upnd proportions as soon as Amnesty rub.bish comments. Tell that Deprose Muchena, so called Regional director for Amnesty, that he has more problems in his own country south africa where mur.ders, rap.es xenophobia and all bad things are happening unabated. Has he heard that Laura Miti has been rap.ed in Zambia? No the woman is enjoying her nshima in her kitchen. And for his information Laura probably run away from possible ra.pe in south africa.
    So for this case, it is properly before the courts under our laws, you Amnesty just hire lawyers for your cohorts that is what they need now to escape two years in jail, not those political noises.

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  13. No one stops people from protesting but there are laws and procedures to follow. Amnesty must understand that these people broke laws. In that way, they are asking our justice system to bend laws to suit these people. I think they are overstepping their mandate. Amnesty should not ask our justice system to twist the law.

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  14. The charges against Pilato and others are not because of protesting against Fire tenders but for disobeying lawful instructions.
    What Amnesty International (AI)is telling us Zambians is that our laws should not apply to Pilato and his friends because they protested against govt. However other Zambians who disobey lawful instructions or orders must be answerable to the law as long as it is not against govt. So accordingly if you want to get support from AI, just protest against govt and the law will not apply to you. What level of anarchy in a country is this. Then lets also suspend democracy because govt is mandated to administer the rule of laws amongst other reponsibilities.

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  15. Here it’s a crime to protest unless it’s against the opposition or in favour of the government of the day. Anything else and you are in trouble.

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  16. This proves that HH and his “entourage” are dull. It also proves that UPND is a tribal grouping and that HH is corrupt and thief in the privatization saga. Got more questions?

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  17. ??? All those implying separate laws for certain people or their suspensions, do not mean well for Zambia! Why are they afraid of the due course of the law to take place? Thats the beauty of the law! They shall be set free when proven innocent. Anarchy will not be tolerated in Zambia, just like permissivity! You can blab for all you like!

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Comments are closed.