President Edgar Lungu yesterday held a closed door meeting at State House with a three man delegation from Amnesty International where issues concerning death penalty, land acquisition and the rights for the poor majority were discussed.
Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda says President Lungu emphasized during the meeting that the organisation is free to come to Zambia and conduct their own research where allegations of human rights abuses have occurred including illegal detentions.
President Lungu noted that the team from Amnesty International is free to go anywhere in the country and report back to him with clear evidence of name and incident.
The President has also asked the organisation to work closely with the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in either whistle blowing, addressing human rights concerns as well as making suggestions.
Mr. Chanda added that Mr. Lungu has further called on Amnesty International to provide its input in what the country looks forward to see in the amended public order act, constitutional amendments and generally the human rights regime in Zambia.
Meanwhile, the President has emphasized that on his part he does not think that death penalty is a deterrent and so he remains in a position where he wouldn’t sign a death penalty for any prisoner.
President Lungu added that he does not support the death penalty as a deterrent against the crimes .
Mr. Lungu said he alluded to the decision he made to commute the death sentences of over 330 people adding that the status currently remains like that.
However, debate can go on as to whether the constitutionality of the death penalty is constitutional or not bearing in mind that the case is before the Supreme Court, he said.
Mr. Lungu has further urged the Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International to not just examine allegations when the rich and powerful people are involved but to also work for the human rights of the poor as the rich and powerful have easy access to lawyers.
Amnesty International which was led by Secretary General from London Salil Shetty suggested that a matrix be created to assess where Zambia’s response on human rights is monthly, quarterly and yearly to which President Lungu was agreeable.
Meanwhile, President Edgar Lungu has also called on all institutions involved in land alienation to ensure that the rights of the poor in terms of land acquisition take precedence.
The President said no investor should displace people without taking care of their communal rights such as access to water and grazing land among other concerns.