The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls for the immediate release on bail of Malawian lawyer Ralph Kasambara – former Attorney-General of Malawi and former Commissioner of the Malawi Human Rights Commission. Mr Kasambara has been held in arbitrary detention since 13 February, despite two court orders commanding his release on bail.

Following his arrest last week, Mr Kasambara was granted bail by a magistrate’s court but rearrested several hours later and detained in Zomba maximum security prison. A High Court Judge heard a judicial review application of his case and granted a further order to ensure his immediate release on 17 February. Reports indicate that Mr Kasambara was denied release following ‘specific instructions’ to keep him in detention. Last night Mr Kasambara was moved to a hospital after his health seriously deteriorated due to a lack of access to medication while in detention. He remains under heavy police surveillance at Mwaiwathu hospital.

Sternford Moyo, IBAHRI Co-Chair said:

‘It is worrying to hear of the arrest and then rearrest of Ralph Kasambara, in clear violation of court orders.’

He added:

‘The IBAHRI has received indications that other lawyers in Malawi have recently been the target of threats and petrol bomb attacks. This is an extremely worrying trend and represents signs of erosion of the rule of law in the country, as the independence of lawyers and respect for court decisions are threatened.’

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