The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) commends His Excellency, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of the Republic of Zambia, for pardoning 283 inmates from the various Correctional Facilities across the country on the eve of Zambia’s 55th Independence Anniversary Celebrations.
The pardoning of 245 male and 38 female inmates by President Lungu in exercise of his Prerogative of Mercy Powers under Article 97 of the Constitution of Zambia was significant towards restoring the dignity, rights and freedoms of the affected individuals.
The pardoning of inmates was also necessary towards decongesting Correctional Facilities which were usually overcrowded between 250% and 300%, a situation that contributed to the violation of a wide range of human rights violations.
It was a momentous occasion for the pardoned individuals to join and their families and the rest of Zambians in celebrating Zambia’s 55th Independence Anniversary Celebrations under the theme “Our Freedoms, Our Country and Our Responsibility”.
The Commission is commending the President’s exercise of mercy against the background of the unfavourable human rights situation in detention and correctional facilities which the Commission has consistently been bringing to the attention of the various legal and justice sector players in Zambia.
Further, the Commission wishes to thank the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Stephen Kampyongo, MP and the Minister of Justice, Hon. Given Lubinda, MP for their steadfast leadership and understanding on matters relating to promoting and protecting the rights of inmates.
The Commission is particularly encouraged that its support to the Government to improve the rights of inmates has on many occasions been appreciated by the Government through taking of practical steps towards redressing the situation, including pardoning some of the recommended inmates based on various human rights considerations.
However, the Commission is saddened by the death of an inmate it had recommended for pardoning on account of ill-health and old age, a day before the announcement of his pardoning. The Commission commiserates with his family on the tragic loss. Nonetheless, the Commission is hugely grateful that the President had done what was humanely possible by exercising his constitutional powers of mercy and compassion on individuals convicted by the courts.
Finally, the Commission wishes to congratulate all those who were pardoned and appeal to them not to betray the President’s Prerogative of Mercy by backsliding into old behaviour that had caused them to be in conflict with the law and society at large.
Their pardoning should be an opportunity for the released inmates to understand and appreciate the fact that despite offending society, society at large through the President has forgiven them. Therefore, the released inmates should give back their best to society by living a life consistent with this year’s Independence Anniversary theme, “Our Freedoms, Our Country and Our Responsibility”.
[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution [Amendment] Act No. 2 of 2016 with an overall mandate of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted]
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION