FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COMMUTATION OF SENTENCES FOR DEATH ROW INMATES BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF ZAMBIA MR. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU
The Human Rights Commission is delighted at the move by His Excellency the President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu taken to commute the death sentences of 332 death row inmates to life imprisonment.
The commutation is a clear demonstration that President will not depart from the direction taken by his predecessors of the de facto moratorium. In light of this action, the Commission calls upon Government to take the extra step and accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which requires State Parties to abolish the death penalty. Further, Zambia needs to domesticate the Option Protocol to ensure that the Judiciary do not continue handing down death sentences as a matter of law.
The Commission reiterates its opposition to the maintenance of the death penalty as submitted to the technical committee on drafting the Zambian Constitution in 2012. Human Rights practice today guides that a rehabilitative approach to criminal offenders should be adopted as opposed to the traditional approaches of retribution, vengeance and punishment under which the death penalty falls.
The Human Rights Commission has repeatedly raised concerns about over-crowding in prisons which exposes inmates to inhumane conditions. It is encouraging to note government’s willingness to address the problem of congestion in prisons. The Commission believes that the legislative and administrative measures announced by the president to address conditions in prisons across the country will go a long way in creating the desired environment for inmates in line with the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.
ATTACK ON UPND LEADER HAKAINDE HICHILEMA BY PF CADRES
The Human Right Commission condemns in strongest terms the reported violent acts of Patriotic Front (PF) cadres on the Copperbelt Province who forced their way into Icengelo Radio on Wednesday evening to stop a radio programme where the United Party for National Development Party (UPND) President Mr. Hakainde Hichilema was scheduled to speak.
The Commission is disappointed with PF cadres’ attack on Mr. Hakainde Hichilema and interference with Radio Icengelo’s scheduled programme.
It is unfortunate that the cadres have continued to behave violently and conducting themselves in a manner that is inconsistent with the stance taken by His Excellency the President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s on political violence. For as long as cadres are not punished for these acts, there will be no end to political violence. The Commission calls upon the PF party leadership to translate the commitment to stop political violence in action by sanctioning the cadres behind the attack so that they understand there are no rewards for perpetrating such acts.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION