ALLIANCE for Community Action (ACA) has partnered with like-minded organisations and individual activists to set up a legal and humanitarian fund for human rights defenders in Zambia.

In a statement issued by (ACA) information and advocacy officer Jimmy Maliseni, Monday, the CSO explained that the fund had been necessitated by the continued shrinking space for civic actors, and that the detention of critical voices had prompted well-wishers to partner with ACA to offer financial and material support to human rights advocates.

“The Alliance for Community Action, other like-minded organisations and individual activists, have come together to create a legal and humanitarian fund for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in Zambia. Following the continued shrinking space for civic actors in the nation, whereby critical voices are consistently being detained, various well-wishers have approached the ACA and other actors with offers of financial and material support. Some of this support has already been received. However, up to this point, there has been no independent structured system through which this support could be received and accounted for. Donors have thus been separately informed of how their support has been utilized,” Maliseni stated.

“In order to ensure continued accountability and transparent management of these resources, a stand-alone mechanism has been created for purposes of managing all the resources received. In this regard, civic actors, through the ACA, have opened an independent bank and mobile money accounts for this purpose. The ACA will publish annual financial statements on the management of this fund in line with financial best-practice. Further, donors and members of the general public will be at liberty to request for information on the management of the fund.”

He added that the fund would also be used to render support to families wherever financial and material support was required and would also be used to pay for legal representation for the human rights defenders.

“The fund will be used in three specific areas. First, the resources will be used to support human rights defenders in detention. This facet will also include setting up a system of offering immediate support following detention of activists. The Zambia Police has consistently detained people without informing next of kin on the location of confinement or giving reasons for the same. It is, therefore, important that detained individuals can be located in the shortest possible time to ensure that their physical wellbeing is ascertained. Secondly, the fund will render support to families wherever financial and material support is required, especially in cases where the arrested human rights defenders are the main income earner. Lastly and most critically, the fund will be used to pay for legal representation,” stated Maliseni.

“On behalf of other civil society organizations and independent civic actors, the ACA would like to sincerely thank all organizations and citizens, who have supported us in these difficult times for human rights defenders in Zambia. Details of the bank mobile accounts to which financial contributions can be directed have been published on the ACA website, and social media platforms. All those intending to offer support may consult the ACA to verify the details before making their donations if in doubt.”