The Human Rights Commission applauded President Hakainde Hichilema’s decision to sign Penal Code (Amendment) Bill No. 25 of 2022, which eliminated the offense of President-Defamation and replaced the death penalty with life in prison.
The life sentence in place of the death penalty, according to commission spokeswoman Mweelwa Muleya, is a significant step in advancing the fundamental right to life
According to him, Zambia’s decision to abolish the death penalty by revising Chapter 87 of the Penal Code Act, which defines the offenses that carry the capital penalty, is consistent with a global trend to do away with this cruel and inhumane punishment.
“There is no known country that has abolished the death penalty through a national referendum, but through amendment of penal laws and judicial decisions that declared the death penalty as unconstitutional.
“It is gratifying that by amending the Penal Code Act to remove the provision relating to mandatory death sentence for crimes of treason, murder and aggravated robbery, it means that currently, Zambia does not have any legislation that imposes the sentence of death as a form of punishment for any crime,” he said.
According to Mr. Mwelwa, Zambia has abolished the death sentence as a result of the Penal Code’s replacement of its relevant clauses.
The Commission also applauds President Hichilema for agreeing to the repeal of Section 69 of the Penal Code, which dealt with criminal defamation of the President and had the effect of restricting the freedom of speech.