On the 20 January 2020, SALC and Amnesty International, released a statement condemning the arrest of, Fumba Chama, popularly known as Pilato, a Zambian human rights defender and musician, as well as Laura Miti and Bornwell Mwewa, Human Rights Defenders from the Alliance for Community Action (ACA) , who were arrested in Zambia on the 21st December 2019. Pilato was arrested for unlawful assembly and Miti and Mwewa were arrested for assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct.
All three HRD’s were brought to court on Monday, 23 December 2019 for a hearing before a Magistrate and released on bond. On Monday 13 January 2020, Miti and Mwewa appeared in court where several police witnesses gave testimony. Subsequently, on the 11th and 13th March, Miti and Mwewa appeared in Livingstone Magistrates Court, where several other witnesses gave testimony.
The prosecution has closed its case and written submissions will now be made. The Magistrate has set the return date as 11 May 2020. Pilato’s is still out on bond and his case will only be heard in April.
SALC would like to reiterate that we strongly condemn the continued threats to civic space and continued violations of the right to freedom of expression and association in Zambia. We would also like to call on the newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, and the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to investigate the actions of the Zambian Government with the utmost urgency and to reaffirm the principles of the Contonou Declaration to the Zambian Government, on strengthening and expanding the protection of all Human Rights Defenders in Africa.
Update as at 13 July 2020
Laura Miti and Bornwell Mwewa will be appearing in court on the 20 July in order to testify in their defence. Pilato continues to travel to Livingstone to extend his bail, he is yet to be formally tried in a court of law.
Update as at 7 September 2020
On 7 September 2020, the Magistrate acquitted Laura Miti and Bornwell Mwewa of all charges against them. The charges against Fumba Chama aka PilAto have since been dropped.