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Referendum required on death penalty abolishment

By KETRA KALUNGA

Hold a referendum to completely and effectively abolish the death penalty, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) have advised the government and cooperating partners.

HRC chairperson Mudford Mwandenga said during the commemoration of the Human Rights Day that the abolishment of the death penalty required a referendum for it to be effective.

Mr Mwandenga said it was encouraging to note the continued efforts by the government towards amending the Penal Code Act and the Criminal Procedure Code Act, chapters 87 and 88 of the Laws of Zambia.  

He said the presentation of the Criminal Procedure Code (amendment) bill no. 24 of 2022 to parliament which seeks to replace the penalty of death with life imprisonment was another notable effort made by the government.

“However it must be pointed out these efforts are not enough, they need to be complemented by the repeal of article 12 of the Constitution of Zambia which provides for death sentence for certain offences.

Mr Mwandenga said the intended repeal of the provisions relating to the offence of defamation of the president is a giant and magnanimous step towards enhancing freedom of expression and other related rights. 

He said within the context of repealing the law on defamation of the president, the HRC was aware of the concerns that have been raised by some sections of society that the amendments would lead to an abuse of the freedom of expression. 

Mr Mwandenga however said the HRC holds the view that abuse of any freedom should be redressed within prescribed laws and must not be used as a justification for procrastinating on appropriately amending and enacting laws aimed at enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights.  

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