UN calls for legal reforms

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office has joined in calls for government to come up with tangible legal reforms following President Hakainde Hichilema’s pledge to abolish the death penalty.

While welcoming President Hichilema’s pledge to abolish the death penalty, the UN office says this could only be achieved by working with Parliament.

It says the use of the death penalty is incompatible with fundamental human rights and dignity, hence the need to end the cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishment.

UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Seif Magango  notes that abolishing the sanction in law would be a major step forward for human rights in the country, adding to the growing consensus worldwide for universal abolition of the death penalty.

He discloses in a statement availed to ZANIS that  his organisation is advising the Zambian government to promptly work on legal hitches regarding the abolishing of the death penalty.

“We urge the Zambian Government and Parliament to promptly bolster the President’s pledge with tangible legal reforms,” Mr. Magango stated.

Further, the UN office advises Zambia to amend the Penal Code Act and the Criminal Procedure Code Act to remove capital provisions, as well as re-launch the Constitutional Reform process to expand the Bill of Rights, including explicit prohibition of the death penalty.

Mr. Magango encouraged the government to demonstrate international leadership on the key issue by ratifying the second optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on abolition of the death penalty.

He assured that the UN Human Rights Office is ready to provide technical assistance and cooperation to the Zambian authorities to make this promise a reality.

Yesterday Human Rights Commission Chairperson Mudford Mwandenga said his Commission expects  the progressive Presidential pronouncement on abolishing the death penalty to be followed with tangible action on legal reforms.

Mr Mwandenga said the Commission is aware that the death penalty is permissible under Article 12 of the Constitution, Chapter 1 of the laws of Zambia, in execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offense under the law in force in Zambia of which a person has been convicted.

The policy pronouncement by the President, he said , can be actualized through the amendment of penal laws such as the Penal Code Act and the Criminal Procedure Code Act Chapter 88 of the laws of Zambia.

On the eve of Africa Day President HICHILEMA announced that government has taken the decision to abolish the death penalty.

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