Front Line Defenders, an international human rights organisation, is persuading Malawi government to release of eight Tanzanians languishing in remand custody in Malawi, where they are facing criminal trespass charges.
The Malawian security officers arrested them in December, last year, at the Kayerekera Uranium Mine Site in Karonga where it was initially alleged that the latter were sent by the Tanzania government to investigate if Malawi was manufacturing nuclear weapons.
But Front Line Defenders in a statement made available to Nyasa Times by Advocacy Officer Philip Hoschitiz, said they are deeply concerned with the physical and psychological integrity of the eight detained Tanzanian nationals.
The organization said that the arrested suspects are the environmental defenders and that their visit in Malawi was part of their normal journey.
“The arrested are all affiliated with various civil society groups, some with initiated a small consortium called Tanzania Uranium Awareness Mission (TUAM) which is platform for knowledge exchange and information sharing in socio-economic and environmental impacts related to mining and extractions,” reads part of the statement.
The statement said their cross-learning visit was nothing more than ‘cover for an act of espionage.’
Front Line Defenders further said the life of the suspects at the Mzuzu Prison are at risk especially because the detention conditions are reported to be characterized by overcrowding, poor sanitation and malnutrition.
“We therefore urge the Malawi government to immediately and unconditionally release the eight Tanzanian human rights defenders,” added the statement.
While the suspects have been charged criminal trespass and spying cases, the Front Line Defenders argued that the group was escorted by five Malawians who were left free at Karonga district police station.
However, Malawi government is yet to issue a comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson Mindi Kasiga said Dar es Salaam will continue to use diplomacy to negotiate the release of the Tanzanians accused of spying in Malawi.
Malawi Foreign Affars Ministry sources say there are prospects to release the Tanzanians following President Peter Mutharika’s bilateral meetings with Tanzania’s President John Magufuli.
Nyasa Times reported about the meeting and posted pictures of Mutharika and Magufuli sharing light moments after their meeting.
And the social media was awash with the pictures, including those of the two leaders shaking and holding hands in a photo opportunity after the discussions.
A video clip circulating on social media shows both leaders sloganeering, starting with Magufuli saying “Malawi woyee!” and Mutharika reciprocating “Tanzania woyee!.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :