Former President Rupiah Banda’s lawyer Robert Amsterdam has sharply criticised recent moves by the ruling Patriotic Front party, arguing that members of the international community must play a stronger role to protect rule of law in the country.
The press release from Amsterdam was issued after the Immigration Authorities ignored a court order granting permission to former President Banda to travel to South Africa to attend a prestigious roundtable event organised by Boston University. Earlier, the immigration authorities had similarly blocked the former head of state’s travel despite another court order.
Amsterdam also drew comparisons between the defiance of court orders and the recent appearance of a violent trained militia belong to the PF, which has attacked opposition and civil society members in several instances.
“When a government brazenly ignores its courts and uses violence against its own citizens, society is exposed to the worst kinds of abuses of power that can lead to atrocities,” said Amsterdam.
“If the PF were actually serious about pursuing justice, then why would they constantly have to break the law and behave like criminals with their treatment toward former President Banda?” Amsterdam said. “The international community has a responsibility to speak up when a government tries to make its citizens prisoners without convictions, when it sends organized violent mobs to attack peaceful assemblies, and when the constitutional separation of powers is breaking down before our very eyes.”
Former President Rupiah Banda is currently facing two separate trials for allegedly benefitting from an oil deal with Nigeria as well as accusations of ‘gratification’ for receiving trucks. His lawyers dismiss the charges as politically motivated.