Zambia police refuse to release ailing gay rights activist

Published: April 9, 2013

Police in Zambia are balking at releasing anti-AIDS and human rights activist Paul Kasonkomona from jail even though his supporters have provided the required guarantees that he would return to face court proceedings.

His supporters appealed today to Zambian leaders and international groups to help win his release, saying that Kasonkomona’s continued detention poses a grave threat to his health.

Kasonkomona, who is HIV-positive, was arrested April 7 after he appeared live on television in Zambia urging recognition of gay rights.

He was charged with one count of “promoting immoral acts.”

His supporters were told that Kasonkomona would be released if he could provide two working sureties to guarantee his return to court. But when they did that, police refused to set him free.

“We met all the legal requirements, and now they are saying it’s a political case. It is unlawful for the police to detain Paul for more than 48 hours without taking him before a magistrate,” said Chivuli Riva Ukwimi, the marginalised populations coordinator for the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa, which supports human rights and populations most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS in the region.

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