Judge grants bail for 3 arrested Malawi dissidents

A Malawian magistrate has granted bail to political dissidents and LGBTQ rights activists who were arrested for opposing President Peter Mutharika.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

HRDC leaders released on bail. (Photo courtesy of Maravi Post)

Violet Chipao, the chief resident magistrate in Lilongwe, on March 12 granted bail to three Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders — Gift Trapence and MacDonald Sembereka, who were arrested March 8, and Timothy Mtambo, who was arrested later, the Maravi Post reported.

Chipao said that the state failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt why the accused should not be given bail.

The activists have been leading national protests against last year’s election, which has now been nullified in court. By court order, another election must be held this spring.

Trapence is the leader of the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), the country’s main LGBTI rights organization, and a leader of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), which promotes citizen participation and has led peaceful demonstrations denouncing irregularities in the May 2019 presidential election.

Sembereka is a prominent Anglican priest, activist for LGBTQ rights, AIDS fighter and leader of the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), a network of local civil society organisations working on the accountability of government officials and promoting civil and political rights.

Mtambo is the chairperson of the HRDC.

Sembereka commented, “The battle is on, all credit goes to Malawians who inspire us to press on for a better Malawi. Thanks to family, friends and all both near,far and wide for your support. We remain committed to Project Malawi and change is imminent.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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