The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) commends His Excellency, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of the Republic of Zambia, for pardoning 961 inmates from the various Correctional Facilities across the country on Christmas Day.
The pardoning of the 961 inmates on 25th December 2019 brings the total of inmates President Lungu has pardoned this year alone to 3,325. On 25th May, which is Africa Freedom Day, President Lungu pardoned 2,182 inmates while on Independence Day, 24th October 2019, the President also pardoned 283 inmates in exercising his Prerogative of Mercy Powers under Article 97 of the Constitution of Zambia.
The gesture of compassion by the President which has resulted into restoration of the right to liberty for thousands of ex-inmates who have been re-integrated with their families and communities is highly commendable.
The number of inmates being eligible for pardon is an indication that the on-going reforms under the Zambia Correctional Services are bearing fruits as ex-offenders are graduating into law abiding citizens ready to contribute to community well-being and public safety.
It is the position of the Commission that deserving inmates should be given a second change by way of pardoning so that they can contribute to the well-being of their families, communities and national development at large.
The Commission wishes to call upon those who have been given a second chance not to betray the public confidence and trust that has been exercised by the President through the exercise of his prerogative of mercy by re-offending society.
Further, the Commission appeals to individuals, families and communities to receive and support the ex-inmates without any form of prejudice, stigma and discrimination because anyone is bound to find themselves in a similar or same situation.
There is also need for enhanced support to correctional and extension services and restorative justice and peace building programme to empower the Zambia Correctional Service to effectively facilitate and monitor  re-entry and re-integration of ex-inmates into society and restoring relationships between victims and offenders and their families.
The ever increasing population boom in correctional facilities has been contributing to overcrowding, which results into a wide range of violations of the rights of inmates. It is therefore encouraging that the Executive is taking practical measures towards redressing the situation.
However, there is need for the Legislature and the Judiciary to also play their respective roles aimed at ensuring that custodial sentences are a last resort but encourage non-custodial sentences aimed at promoting rehabilitation, restorative justice and peace-building for sustainable national development. Further, there is need to expedite and support the process of repealing the Prisons Act and replace it with the Zambia Correctional Services Act.
[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]
Issued by:
Mweelwa Muleya

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The mission of the Human Rights Commission is to promote and protect human rights for all people in Zambia through investigations of human rights violations, rehabilitation of victims of human rights abuses, education of communities and advocacy for policy and legal changes influenced by evidence based research

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