Prisons Care & Counselling Association (PRISCCA) Executive Director Godfrey Malembeka has commended President Edgar Lungu for commuting 246 inmates from death row sentencing to life imprisonment.
Mr. Malembeka indicated that the current President has so far commuted over 630 inmates during his tenure saying that it is an impressive record which demonstrates a willingness to respect and uphold human rights.
Speaking in a statement, Mr. Malembeka noted that the act will not only decongest the Correctional Centres but also meant to protect inmates from contracting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Executive Director stated that Mukobeko Maximum facility only has a capacity of 50 people at its condemned section but the number has kept increasing with more than 400 inmates just before yesterday’s commutation, thereby subjecting inmates to untold congestion, an infringement on their rights.
He maintained his position that there is no evidence that suggests that the death penalty deters crime, adding that Correctional Centres are meant to transform people.
“As PRISCCA, we believe reformation is the answer. There is no reformation in the grave. That’s why people who commit serious offences should be jailed and given a chance to reform. Further as a Christian nation. We should leave vengeance to God,” Mr. Malembeka reiterated.
Mr. Malembeka however suggested that the country should consider abolishing the death penalty as it violates the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
He indicated that as much as there are serious offences such as murder, aggravated robbery and treason that attracts death sentencing, the country should join African countries such as Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Mauritius and Seychelles in abolishing the death penalty and maintain life imprisonment.
Yesterday, President Lungu commuted 246 inmates and of this number, 225 are male and 21 are female. The commutation was done at Mukobeko Maximum prison in Kabwe.