Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders have been released on bail by the Lilongwe Magistrate Court.
HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo, his vice Gift Trapence and senior member McDonald Sembereka were arrested in connection with protests organised to shut down state residences across the country over President Peter Mutharika’s delay to assent to the amended electoral laws.
Mtambo was arrested on Tuesday while Trapence and Sembereka were nabbed earlier on Sunday.
Chief Resident Magestrate Violet Chipao, who was presiding over the case, granted the three Human Rights Defenders bail on conditions that they should avail K 2 million non cash surity bond, K 200,000 cash surity bond, they should surrender their travel documents and that they should be reporting to Area 30 Police every Friday.
The court heard that the State failed to give enough reasons as to why the three should not to be granted bail.
Speaking after securing the bail, HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo said they are proud that they went through this because it is a path to justice.
Mtambo said the arrest has empowered them to continue fighting for justice.
“We will continue fighting for justice and the rights of people in the country no matter how much we suffer and justice will prevail,” said Mtambo.
He also said he is seeking medical attention following a suspected poisoning incident while in the custody of the police.
HRDC Lawyer Khwima Mchizi said he is sure that his clients will abide by the conditions of the court on the bail.
He added that his clients will not be committing any offence if they demonstrate to State House on 25 March because it is their right to do so.
“My clients have never committed any offence before and they are law abiding citizens. Demonstrations are a constitutional right and its not an offence to demonstrate, ” he said.
Mchizi added that full trial on the matter will start on 9 April.
The HRDC has been leading Malawians in conducting mass demonstrations to force MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah and all the Commissioners to resign.
The HRDC accuses them of mismanaging the 21 may 2019 Elections.
Several organisations including CIVICUS, the global alliance of civil society organisations, together with the Malawian Human Rights Defenders Network (HRDN) and the Centre for Human rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) on the domestic scene had called for the immediate release of the three human rights defenders ahead of their bail hearing today.
Their arrest came a few hours after President Peter Mutharika threatened to deal with the three for plotting to destabilise his reign through demonstrations.