Malawi:Amnesty International calls for Ralph Kasambara’s release

On Thursday, Kasambara’s lawyers Wapona Kita and Jonathon Kara were summoned by the directors of Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau to answer questions in relati on to their client being granted bail.

“It would appear the authorities are pulling out all stops to ensure Ralph Kasambara remains in custody,” said Kututwa.On Monday a group of five men carrying a can of petrol arrived at the prominent lawyer’s office, asking people in the vicinity about his whereabouts.

Five security officers responded to the scene, prompting two of the alleged attackers to flee.

He was returned to prison for one night before his release could be processed. His release on Wednesday morning was delayed when police arrived at the Chichiri Prison with a search warrant and requested he accompany them to his office and home. He refused to go, but the search went ahead. Kasambara was released on Wednesday afternoon and returned briefly to his home before armed police rearrested him and returned him to Chichiri Prison.

No additional charges have been made. Kasambara is one of a number of people in Malawi, including human rights defenders, journalists and civil society activists, who have been targeted since early 2011 for criticizing the government on issues including human rights, governance and the economy. The intimidation has taken the form of death threats, forced entry to homes and offices, petrol bombings and other attacks.

Threats have come from people who say they are aligned with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) or by men believed to be state security agents. Human rights defenders speaking at international forums and those involved in organizing anti-government demonstrations have been publicly criticized and threatened with violence and arrest by government officials, including President Mutharika.Amnesty International expressed concern throughout 2011 about increased repression and threats to Malawians’ freedom of expression, association and assembly.

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