The United Nations (UN) has ordered the Government of Malawi to immediately release activists Gift Trapence and MacDonald Sembereka.
Trapence – Vice Chairman of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRD) – and Sembereka who is a coalition member were arrested on Tuesday for fraud and operating an unregistered organisation called MANGO.
In a statement dated July 10, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said the organisation has reached a resolution with the activists.
A letter from UN resident Coordinator in Malawi to the Malawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday said MANGO had agreed to repay funds which the organisation received from UNAIDS but did not use for intended purpose.
The UN statement confirmed that UNAIDS reported MANGO to police but the case did not represent legal action against the organisation.
“UNAIDS respectfully requests the immediate release of the two members of the Mango Network, Mr Gift Trapence and Mr Macdonald Sembereka, from police custody.
“UNAIDS is strongly supportive of the full empowerment and engagement of civil society organizations in the AIDS response. It looks forward to continuing its partnership with community and civil society organizations in ensuring that all people affected by HIV have access to HIV prevention, treatment and social support services and that their human rights are protected,” says the statement.
Sembereka and Trapence were arrested days after they led post-election demonstrations to demand the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah.