Chifire contempt charges a total fabrication – AI
By Staff Reporter
Amnesty International (AI) has observed that the contempt charges slapped on civil rights activist Gregory Chifire by the Zambian Supreme Court are a total fabrication.
Chifire, director of the Southern Africa Network Against Corruption, was mid this year slapped with four contempt of court charges after he questioned a Supreme Court judgement delivered in March this year involving two large corporations.
The case involved Stanbic bank, reported a local company, Savenda, to the CreditReference Bureau for blacklisting on allegations that it defaulted on a loan repayment.
In a letter to chief justice Irene Mabilima, Chifire described the judgment as havingomitted very crucial evidence that formed the basis for the awarding of damages to Savenda.
He further called for the investigation of judges responsible for delivering such a judgment.
Chifire was later summoned to appear before a full Supre Court bench on July 17 and later faced an unfair trial.
The hearing of his case was concluded on September 19 and the verdict is due to be delivered on November 23.
But AI described the whole trial as a fabrication meant to intimidate advocates of anticorruption.
The global human rights watchdog demanded an immediate dropping of the charges.
“The Zambian authorities should be supporting the free exercise of the right to freedom of expression, not supressing it. Gregory’s case smacks of censorship and victimisation, designed to silence his activism work,” said Deprose Muchena, AI’sregional director for Southern Africa.
“This trial is an affront to the right to freedom of expression. Gregory Chifire’s only ‘crime’ has been to ask the Zambian judiciary to ensure accountability within its ranks. The contempt of court charges against Gregory Chifire are a total fabrication. They make a mockery of justice and must be dropped immediately.”