The Courage Foundation calls for an immediate end to all legal and political persecution against Zambian journalist Dr. Fred M’membe, his lawyer and his family.
While he was giving a lecture in Jamaica, Dr M’membe’s home in Zambia was raided and his wife, Mutinta Mazoka M’membe, was arrested, detained for two nights and then released on bail. She’s due to face charges in court on 3 March.
Police are pursuing Dr M’membe on allegations that he is interfering with the liquidation of his former newspaper, The Post. Mutinta launched a new paper, The Mast, in response to the government’s crackdown on The Post, and authorities have attempted to prevent printing of The Mast. An arrest warrant has also been issued for Dr M’membe’s lawyer, Nchima Nchito.
In a statement responding to these developments, Dr M’membe said,
The liquidation of The Post is supposed to be a civil issue. The use of the police, intelligence officers and the entire state machinery, including State House, is unwarranted. It is impunity of the highest order.
Dr M’membe is a fierce advocate of freedom of the press in Zambia. He was honoured with the International Freedom of the Press Award in 1995 and has a long record as an investigative journalist. The Zambia government’s persecution, the raid on his home and legal threats to him and his lawyer constitute a clear attempt to silence his important voice.
Courage Trustee Renata Avila said:
This raid is only the latest in a long string of attacks on press freedoms in Zambia. Dr M’membe has been hounded for speaking out for journalistic rights, and Zambian authorities should be ashamed. These trumped-up charges must be dropped at once.
Courage demands that the Government of Zambia ceases this persecution immediately so Dr M’membe can safely return home.