The Human Rights Commission (HRC/ Commission) joins the international community in commemorating the World Day against the Death Penalty which falls on 10th October of every year and reiterates its call to abolish the inhumane practice to enhance the protection of the right to life.
The World Day against the Death Penalty was declared in order to raise awareness on the conditions affecting individuals facing the death sentence and build momentum towards its universal abolition.
This year's theme of the 18th commemoration of this global event is: "Access to Counsel-A matter of life or death". The theme highlights the importance of the right to effective legal representation for individuals who may face the death sentence.
The commemoration brings to the fore the fact that innocent lives can be lost through execution of individuals wrongly convicted of committing an offence attracting capital
punishment due to lack of effective legal representation.
The Commission supports the growing international position that because of the possibility of killing an innocent person, and considering the sanctity of life, the best safeguard is to abolish the death penalty.
A total of 106 countries have already abolished the death penalty for all crimes while 28 countries, including Zambia, are considered to have abolished the death penalty in practice. According to the United Nations, a country that has not carried out any execution for a period of 10 years is considered to have abolished the death penalty in practice.
Zambia has not executed anyone on the death row for the past 23 years since January 1997 when the last execution took place. The Commission wishes to commend the Executive Decision to suspend the death penalty in practice and for commuting death sentences to life imprisonment.
Everyone is encouraged to support the Government to successfully graduate Zambia into the growing number of countries that have abolished the death penalty both in law and in practice.
To this end, the Commission is calling for members of the public and various stakeholders to make submissions to the Zambia Law Development Commission to appropriately amend the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Acts in order to enhance respect for the right to life.
The mandatory death sentence for crimes of treason, murder and aggravated robbery must be amended to give discretionary powers to the judiciary based on merits of each case.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION