Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga
Human rights group Amnesty International is being urged to recognise Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga as “Prisoners of Conscience.”
The two men are in Chichiri prison in Malawi on charges of homosexuality, after they celebrated their relationship in a public ceremony last December. Their trial verdict is expected on 22 March.
The call for Prisoner of Conscience status comes from the London-based LGBT human rights group, OutRage!. The group’s campaign coordinator, Peter Tatchell, has written to the Director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen.
” Everyone is very appreciative of the statement that Amnesty has already issued, which deplores the men’s arrest and calls for their release. We are now hoping that Amnesty will go one step further and recognise them as Prisoners of Conscience,” wrote Tatchell.
“OutRage! has made the appeal for Prisoner of Conscience status following a request for help from Mr Monjeza and Mr Chimbalanga. The two men have asked me and others to increase Malawian and international pressure to secure the dropping of all charges and their immediate release.
“Adoption by Amnesty as Prisoners of Conscience would be a great morale boost for Tiwonge and Steven. It might also help encourage a less harsh sentence,” noted Tatchell.
If the men are found guilty they face a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.