Open Letter: Zambia Must Respect International Law

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August 24, 2018

Dear Mr. President,

Re: Zambia Must Respect International Law

 

The Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN) unequivocally and in the strongest words possible condemn Zambia’s asylum rejection of  Mr. Tendai Biti, a Senior member of  Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC Alliance. This action is a blatant violation of International Refugee Law, sets a bad precedent in Africa; and is a point of concern for opposition leaders and human rights activists across the continent.

On Thursday August 9, 2018, according to the New York Times, Mr. Biti, was arrested after Zambia rejected his request for asylum, deported and handed him over to the Zimbabwean authorities.  Biti was then  charged with inciting violence and wrongly accused of violation of election law by announcing unofficial results.

As human rights advocates, AFJN views  Zambia’s actions as supporting authoritarianism  at a time when the continent needs to uphold a more just set of principles.   AFJN recognizes that the continent is filled with Tendai Bitis, people working diligently in government, opposition parties, or social movements to build the Africa we know is possible.

AFJN further recognizes the spirit of Ubuntu which was a lynch-pin of the anti-apartheid period.  Our collective freedom and struggle for justice was dependent on each other; there in frontline states like Zambia, and throughout the continent.  We urge the Government of Zambia to re-commit itself to this noble legacy.

We implore your government and all governments on the continent to protect International Human Rights and Humanitarian law.  Human rights defenders advance justice, peace and good governance.  These leaders  must be protected in Zambia and throughout the continent.  We call on the Zambian government to investigate and make public the rationale behind its actions concerning  Mr. Tendai Biti’s rejected asylum and deportation to Zimbabwe.

 

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