A Malawian magistrate has granted bail to political dissidents and LGBTQ rights activists who were arrested for opposing President Peter Mutharika.
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.”
- Activists fear for safety of 2 arrested Malawi dissidents (March 10, 2020, 76crimes.com)