Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena says the contempt of court charges against SANAC executive director Gregory Chifire should be dropped immediately because they are a total fabrication and make a mockery of justice.
In a statement issued by Amnesty International – Southern Africa media manager Robert Shivambu, Wednesday, the institution stated that Chifire’s contempt case was designed to silence his activism work.
Muchena said Chifire’s trial was an affront to the right to freedom of expression, adding that his only crime had been to ask the Zambian judiciary to ensure accountability within its ranks.
“A Zambian human rights activist is facing jail simply for accusing the country’s judiciary of corruption. 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 Chifire are a total fabrication. They make a mockery of justice and must be dropped immediately,” said Muchena.
“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.”
Chifire’s verdict and sentencing will be delivered on Friday, November 23, following a trial on four contempt of court charges.
The four contempt of court charges against Chifire, emanate from his questioning of a Supreme Court judgement handed down in March 2018 involving two large corporations.
The case involved a local bank, Stanbic, referring a local company, Savenda, to a credit bureau for blacklisting on allegations that it defaulted on a loan repayment.
In a letter to the chief justice, Chifire described the judgment as having “omitted very crucial evidence” that formed the basis for the awarding of damages to Savenda and asked for the judges suspected to be responsible to be investigated.
He was summoned to appear in court on July 17 and later faced trial.
The hearing of his case was concluded on September 19, this year.