​​​Zambia commended for abolishing death penalty


Amnesty International has commended Zambia for abolishing the death penalty and removing criminal defamation of the president, saying the abolition is a good and progressive move.

On Friday, Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema announced that he had assented to a law banning the death penalty and the offence of criminal defamation of the president.

Hichilema said the Penal Code Act Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia has been amended to repeal all provisions of the Penal Code Act which provided for the imposition of mandatory death sentence in the absence of extenuating circumstances.

“Similarly, by the President’s assent, the provisions of Section 69 of Penal Code Act Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia which provide for the offence of Criminal Defamation of the President have since been repealed.

“Fellow Zambians, during our campaigns for the Presidency, we promised to amend all laws that inhibit the growth of democracy and good governance, impede human rights and basic freedoms. Today we have delivered,” said Hichilema in a statement posted on Facebook.

Reacting to the amendment, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Tigere Chagutah, said the abolition shows the country’s commitment to protecting the right to life.

“We also commend President Hichilema for quashing the offence of criminal defamation of the president, used until recently to muzzle free speech and unjustifiably limit freedom of expression in the country.

“Zambia’s decision to ban the death penalty should serve as an example to countries in the region that still use the death penalty and compel them to take immediate steps to end this cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment and protect the right to life,” said Chagutah.

With the abolition, Zambia has become the 25th country in sub-Saharan Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.

In its latest report on the use of the death penalty, Amnesty International documented that executions in sub–Saharan Africa more than doubled from 16 in 2020 to 33 in 2021.

There have been important steps towards abolition across Southern Africa in recent years. Angola, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, and South Africa have all abolished the death penalty.

Malawi is one of the countries yet to abolish the death penalty but Parliamentarians have been recently expressing support towards abolition of the punishment.

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