Zambia: Activist faces drugs charges 'over deworming tablets'

Zambian police detained a human rights activist on drugs charges after finding "deworming tablets" in his house, it's claimed.

Security forces found pills they believed to be ecstasy during a raid on Brebner Changala's home earlier this month, reports the Lusaka Times. It says both Changala and his sister were hauled in for questioning by the Drug Enforcement Commission before being charged with trafficking psychotropic substances. But reports say the sister, who's apparently a nurse, insists the drugs are used to deworm children. Zambia has launched deworming programmes in recent years in a bid to combat bilharzia, caused by intestinal worms, which can cause fertility and kidney problems.

Changala has been a "fierce critic" of President Michael Sata's governance record, according to privately-owned weekly Zambian Watchdog. It accuses security personnel of searching the activist's house for "anything they could find to incriminate him". Zambia has had a reputation for political stability and a relatively efficient, transparent government. However, Sata's critics accuse him of an authoritarian approach and regularly question his health.

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