UN, international NGOs demand immediate release of activists

United Nations flag

The United Nations has appealed to government for the immediate release of activists Gift Trapence and Reverend McDonald Sembereka from police custody.

This is contained in a statement from the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi, addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and copied to Inspector General of Police and UNAIDS Regional Director’s Office in South Africa seen by Kulinji.com.

“The United Nations would like to seek the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Malawi Police Service’s immediate cooperation to effectively release those individuals from Police custody,”  said the statement.

The UN said a declaration made by one of its staff to the police on July 5, 2019 did not represent legal action by the organisation.

The UN further says the case affecting MANGO, an organisation being accused of having misappropriating K7.4 million reached an amicable resolution, and that funds will be repaid to UNAIDS.

The Resident Coordinator’s office renewed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the assurances of its highest consideration.

Trapence
Man in the news: Trapence during a court appearance on Wednesday 

Meanwhile, pressure continues to mount as international human rights and health organizations gravely concerned by the arrest, has joined calls for the release of Trapence.

It noted that there is no basis on his detention as the charge of operating an unregistered NGO without permission is a low level charge subject to only a fine.

“We are concerned that the charge of unlawful operation of an NGO as well as the claims circulating in the media of alleged fraudulent activities are being used as a deliberate attempt to discredit Mr. Trapence and other human rights defenders, to quash ongoing protests of the presidential elections and to justify efforts by the Malawian authorities to constrain civil society and their ability to operate and advocate for human rights,” read their statement.

The organisations pointed out that they are monitoring the case closely and called on the UN family and government to act swiftly.

Some of the organizations are M-PACT Global Action, Global Network of People Living with HIV, Lawyers for Human Rights, Health Gap, Aids Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

Letter from international NGOs
The letter from international NGOs